We regard ourselves as civilised but seldom we bother to define what does it really mean. Civilised is often confused with something modern and thus better than previous. But how can it be per default that something is better simply because it comes later?
Human history is a history of serfdom and slavery. A tiny minority rules the majority and the majority is kept under the current rule either by physical fear or imposing ideological and moral means for the same end. The end result has always been the same: some, very few, benefit and the rest pay and suffer the consequences. It does not really matter how the political system is called because actual, de facto, circumstances reveal the reality anyhow. Despotism, communism, democracy, socialism, capitalism, and feudalism are just abstract words with little concrete and commonly accepted meanings. The reality does not change by naming it differently. Also, the previous ideological principals that were the founding forces for something considered as noble at the time usually decay after a few decades or generations, and can revert to its opposite reality in practise.
Thanks to our history we have never experienced freedom. Therefore we are not accustomed to it either. It is difficult to claim something that is almost beyond practical comprehension. Liberty is one of the key things we have never realised in our societies. The Founding Fathers of the United States were probably the closest in our modern history to grasp the concept by stating in the Declaration of Independence the following: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.”
The statement holds some very strong fundamental concepts and moral ideas upon which all the rest is based on. It starts by stating that everybody is born equal and this self-evident fact cannot be changed during the course of anyone’s life nor can it be taken away from any person by any means whatsoever. Just to state this once again: everybody is equal and no one is above or below anyone else. This means that everybody has the inseparable right for his or her own independence and freedom, and since everybody is equal nobody has the right to violate anyone else’s independence and freedom (i.e.Rights) either. Especially the negative right is very important – a right to decline and refuse.
It continues by opening up some of these inseparable Rights by naming them: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. By saying that everybody has the inseparable right for his or her own life this means that everyone’s life is equally valuable and no one shall interfere with other’s life (or separate one from it). Liberty states the inseparable right for one’s own actions and their consequences (as long as they do not violate anyone else’s Rights). This means that one is free to choose his own moral choices but also to bear the consequences.
The Pursuit of Happiness declares that everyone has an equal opportunity to seek and discover his or her own happiness by one’s own means and choices. It does not state that one is entitled to happiness (i.e. one has a right for happiness). It does not define happiness since it is everyone’s own quest to define and materialise it in one’s life. Thus it is part of the liberty and freedom that everyone has. One is free to seek for his or her way of happiness and practise it as well without anyone’s interference.
Altogether, we are born free and equal and continue to be so along the courses of our lives. We are free to act and use our lives as we wish without anyone’s interference provided that we are not denying anyone else’s similar rights either. A mutually respective way of living based on everyone’s own actions and free will to exist independently.
The final sentence defines the role of Governments only as the means for the protection of the stated Rights, and nothing else. It does not define for governments any role per se and thus they only raison d’être is to make sure that every person is equal and their inseparable rights are not violated by anyone (not even by the government itself).
The above statement is very strong and the humanity has not been ready for it, as of yet that is. Why? Because it is made for grown-ups that are expected to appreciate their own and other’s life above anything else, and respect this principal by not violating anyone else’s rights by force (i.e. involuntarily). It requires that everyone is responsible of one’s own life including one’s own actions and their consequences. This means that one appreciates oneself and lives by one’s own standards, values and moral choices without imposing them to anyone else involuntarily neither directly nor indirectly (i.e. by third parties or entities such as government). It also means that we are free to pursue our own course of life and enjoy from it as well. Especially the last points have been very difficult and basically non-existing in the modern Western societies.
Coming back to our legacy we have always been under someone’s rule either physically, mentally or spiritually and therefore it is very natural for us to expect something or someone to look after us and tell us what to do. This parenting concept is so evident that we don’t even realise it. We expect someone else to take responsibility of our own lives and let us follow the lead. Naturally there has been and always will be people who are ready to take the lead and define the rules how the rest of the population should behave, think, act, work and most of all live their lives. By allowing this to happen we give away our own liberty but more importantly we force others under someone else’s rule and judgement and thus deny their very Right for independent existence. Imposed liberty is no liberty at all. So far liberty has been too precious to be left for everyone to seek for and purse themselves.