Rights and fear.

James Rogers jamesr@best.com
Tue, 25 Mar 2003 11:05:10 -0800


Elias Sinderson wrote:
> Every human being has=20
> the right to=20
> live without fear.


This is a platitude of the timid and the craven.  No such right exists =
in
any meaningful sense, not even in the sense that most of our individual
"rights" (e.g. freedom of expression) exist.  Rights do not impose
conditions on the world, but give latitude as to how an individual may
respond to conditions in the world.  The only way in which a person has =
a
"right" to live without fear is that they can choose to not be afraid.

But even at a more philosophical level, there is something very wrong =
with
this soundbite, which is frequently heard coming from the lips of =
populist
politicians.  Yes, we could live traipsing through Huxleyland without a =
care
in the world but very little good would come from it.  Real people =
living in
the real world *need* fear.  Fear is the motivator that causes all the =
most
fundamental problems to be addressed.  Poverty, disease, death, and war =
are
all conditions that have been incrementally solved because people fear =
them.
Even those who do not face these directly can empathize with those that =
do,
and this motivates people for the better.  Fear is an immensely =
constructive
force over time, but it requires a bit of boldness in the human spirit =
to
bear fruit.

Living without fear is as much a pipe dream born of the human condition =
as
communism.  Glorious in theory and vile in practice.

Cheers,

-James Rogers
 jamesr@best.com

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points=20
out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds=20
could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who=20
is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and=20
sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes=20
up short again and again, because there is no effort=20
without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great=20
enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a=20
worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the=20
triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he=20
fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his=20
place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who=20
knew neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt