“…that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” — Thomas Jefferson
The battle over religion continues in full force on the other site I write for. I’d love to continue that discussion, but many are growing tired of it. Few people comment here one way or the other, so this often feels like a one person echo chamber. Some people call those padded rooms at the mental institution, but I’ll continue on while I still have my sanity.
Unwrapping the key statement in the Declaration of Independence (and John Locke’s writings before it) has always been a fascination of mine. It is after all the money line. Locke’s version included the pursuit of property in place of happiness which seems oddly more specific and somehow smaller. Yet, that specificity provides some clarity.
The order of those three are key. Life is more important than liberty and liberty is more important than property. I think everyone would agree with that statement and yet the gaps between those create issues. How does one define life and the issues surrounding it? When does life begin? Is health care a luxury or an absolute right? How strict can the government get on issues of public health?
Enter the argument over vaccinations and whether they should be required. We are seeing anti-vaxxing laws making it to state houses. It is a classic push-pull situation. Yes, everyone should have a right to make decisions over their own health. That’s until those decisions start effecting others. It’s something anti-xaxxers have never quite understood.
Boil down our politics to its most basic level and you would see that the argument between protecting life and protecting liberty is at the center of everything. It is at the center of our arguments over abortion laws. It is at the center of our arguments over gun laws. It is at the center of our arguments over health care reform and coverage. Dig deep enough and that argument is at the center of everything.
Boil it down to the bare essentials and you’ll find most conservatives take a more individual approach. They want to protect individuals’ rights to shun vaccinations and carry around a gun, but want to limit the individual’s right to obtain an abortion or gain access to birth control. It seems contradictory until you see that it is individual behavior they are most concerned with. Some they approve of and some they don’t.
Progressives are much more concerned with collective health and collective safety. Sometimes that means limiting individual rights if those individual rights threaten the community at large. That can include vaccinations and private gun ownership.
There can be no doubt that requiring a vaccination or license for a firearm is a restriction of personal freedom. There’s no getting around that. However, the alternative is potentially much worse. Whether that’s more kids at school getting sick from a new strand of the virus or someone being shot by a dipshit that doesn’t know how to use his or her gun. It’s all part of the same debate and it’s the same debate we’ve had for hundreds of years. We might as well get used to it.