Skip to main content

can human rights dehumanize us?

Currently reading a very impressive article "Rhetoric, Postemodernism, and Theological education," by A.K.M Adam writing in To Teach, to Delight, and to Move, 2004, the following quotes are from page 69:

"Modern ethical reasoning speaks "human rights" as its native language, asserting the fundamental interchangeability of any human person - though these are usually defined in markedly particular terms (citizens of the United States have "free speech" as a human right, but not adequate health care, whereas citizens of China have "adequate health care" as a human right, but not free speech)."

This to me is a very important insight, the language of human rights is very relative depending on your cultural location. Hence so much misunderstanding between the West and radical Islam, to the westerner the sexual display of women in public is their human right, but to a conservative Muslim, or orthodox Jew, it is her human right to be covered up and protected from the lust of men, and it is mens right to be protected from her lust inducing potential! Yet most rights campaigners assume that their concept of human rights is universal and that no other possibilities exist. This is most tellingly manifest in the talk we have now in NZ regarding sexual rights. That prostitutes have a right to sell their bodies on the streets and homosexuals have a right to adopt children or marry is the obvious manifest universal truth to the liberal majority, and yet is it really being a reactionary conservative to suggest that these are not truly human rights at all, but rather arbitrary ones?

"To the extent that such a person a hypothetical person is universal, of course, [they are] no one in particular - but the God of Christian theology knows everyone particularly, so that the extent that theologians permit a modern insistence on universality to dominate their doctrines, they collaborate with the modern proclivity toward homogenisation."

This one could really screw with your mind, how do you do theology if you have to accept that God deals with everyone on a case by case basis?! What does this really mean? Is this a demand for situation ethics? Are there not universal axioms that can be applied to the human race? The idea that no person can be interchanged with another really makes the issue of 'rights' a very thorny one, because people 'rights' are always going to impinge on the rights of others. Especially in a world where people don't recognise the subjectivity of those rights.

In this way the idea of 'rights' dehumanizes and puts all the attention on the person as victim demanding to be treated fairly. By contrast we gain our humanity by living up to our responsibilities to each other, often giving to and serving those who in our world might have no rights to our resources and concern. It means nothing to assert that a street urchin in an Indian metroplolis has a right to food. It means a great deal to assert that maybe I have a responsibility to feed her. As a victim whose rights are being ignored, she is dehumanized; just one more statistic. As someone to whom I am inescapably connected she is a human who belongs to me, and to whom I belong. If I meet her rights I place myself above her as her saviour. If I fulfill my responsibilities, she allows me to be who I should be, and we are both beneath the saviour who called me to serve and who blesses her through me.

Just thinking out loud, :-), let me know what you think.

Comments

  1. Thankyou for your comment, but please dont use my comments section to advertise your website, feel free to respond with relevant links, but please do not try to propogate this sort of irrational nonsense. And please dont post anonymously, it is very rude.

    ReplyDelete
  2. For some time, I've been wondering about the subjectivity of human rights.

    While not wanting to sound uncompassionate, it has always seemed a little strange to me that it is the right of couples who cannot have children, to have children. How can this be a right?

    I like the speak about our responsibilities.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Addictive Power of End Times Speculation

The mighty Rhett Snell has picked up his blog again (I wonder how long he'll last this time), check out his theory on why people get so into annoyingly unbiblical end times nonsense.

I think that where codes-and-calendars end times theology is dangerous, is that it can give a sense of false growth. We read a theory online, or hear it from some bible teacher, and we come to think that we have mastered an area of our faith. A bit like levelling up in a computer game, or Popeye after he’s eaten some spinach. At worst, we begin to believe that we’ve taken a step that other Christians have not; that we’ve entered an elite class of Christianity.

The false link between suicide and mental illness

One characteristic of human society is the tendency to keep doing something over and over again despite it not working. One example would be our approach to incarcerating criminals to punish them instead of rehabilitating them, compounding their trauma and making it harder for them to live productive law-abiding lives when they get out. But this is the "common-sense" approach, the intuitive human response to the failings of others, punish them and they wont dare do it again. It has never worked, ever, but let's keep doing it. Secular society is screwed because it cannot comprehend that its vision is blurred by sin and therefore knee-jerk, common sense solutions are usually destructive and counter-productive.

So it is with our response to suicide. To kill yourself must be the response of the weak minded and sick - so the thinking goes - so to combat rising suicide we treat individuals medically. Yet suicide is a perfectly rational response to a world as broken as ours and…

Wars and Rumours of Wars

I write in the morning after the USA 2016 Elections, which featured the historic election of Donald Trump. Apart from my personal interested as a resident of planet Earth at this time, it is interesting to note some of the apocalyptic language emerging in discussions of what this means. Even archaeologists are turning to the medium of prophecy. Hear the word of Tobias Stone,
So I feel it’s all inevitable. I don’t know what it will be, but we are entering a bad phase. It will be unpleasant for those living through it, maybe even will unravel into being hellish and beyond imagination. Humans will come out the other side, recover and move on.  Stone suggests that future historians will be able to draw clear lines from Brexit to Trump to the 3rd World War, or something equally bad. Mind you, just because historians can draw those lines doesn't mean they are here.

Then there is the word of Thom Hartman who is more interested in the domestic fallout than the fallout shelter. 
The last …