A Word In Edgewise: Rights, Privileges, and Luck of the Draw

Artwork by Ozerina Anna/Bigstock.com
Artwork by Ozerina Anna/Bigstock.com

Artwork by Ozerina Anna/Bigstock.com

There are some folks who claim that other folks don’t have the “right” to things: clean air, water, the pursuit of a dignified, safe life. The naysayers have a point, but not the one they intend.

For example, baby hawksbill turtles don’t have the “right” to make it from the sand to the sea, and the very stars grow cold, go nova, are gobbled up by rapacious black holes. One day, out of the blue in the late Cretaceous, dinosaurs lost all right to existence when a six-mile-wide asteroid slammed into what is now Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula at 44,000 miles per hour, precipitating one of the globe’s Great Dyings. (The first occurred some 444 million years ago in the Ordovican period.)

Even before man discovered how to personally hasten his own demise, the Earth’s natural cycles of heat and cold, wet and dry (punctuated sporadically by asteroids and volcanic eruptions) rendered life at even the cellular level pretty much a matter of the luck of the draw. In truth, as far as the cosmos is concerned, we continue to exist at the whim of the next random chunk of rock.

But what exists at a galactic level begs the question of what should happen among humans, where there are rights all members of a society should have, granted to each member of the group and enforced through the agency of caring neighbors. These are rights that enable all — the weaker, poorer, less able as well as the healthy, hardy, and wealthy — to have an equal chance to create a dignified life rather than eke out a bare existence. These human rights include access to drinkable water, breathable air, medical care for the citizenry, and jobs paying wages sufficient to sustain life.

We can do our part by sponsoring, encouraging, and funding existing groups that already assist others, anything that offers the ill and isolated not only concrete assistance, but the additional gift of human connection.

You may feel that an isolated act is hardly worth the effort in light of wrestling with your own busy life, but the giving and receiving of time, the intimacy of a touch or hug, can bestow benefits on you far beyond the moment.

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