Rights vs Duties, by A Modern Stoic

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” – 2 Timothy 4:3, the Bible, New International Version

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.” – The Second Coming, William Yeats

It seems that human history evolves in continuous cycles of birth, growth, decay and destruction. And the seed of the next society emerges from the ashes of the last. As western civilization dives deeper into the cycle of decay, the mechanisms of propaganda are in full force, as competing tribes increasingly and blatantly use emotional manipulation to drive the populace in the direction they want. As the volume and vitriol rises, polarization increases until there is no longer a center, and even the possibility of dialog and debate is inconceivable.

Rights Debated

In such times where “rights” are increasingly debated and used as clubs against opposing tribes and viewpoints, I must remind myself that “rights” are a fiction. Regardless of how universal they are touted, rights have no meaning outside of the society that has granted them and that has the means and will to provide and enforce them.

Rights Meaningless Unless Group Able to Provide Opportunities

My “rights” to life, liberty, health care or a universal basic income are meaningless unless there is some group willing and able to provide these services or opportunities. An earthquake will not respect my “right” to housing any more than cancer, a mugger, or war will respect my “right” to life. Rights themselves are increasingly being fabricated from thin air and used as weapons. Additionally, the “right” to not be offended is being used to stifle the right of free speech, for example.

Decaying Societies Shift From Fundamental Duties Toward Rights

As societies evolve and decay, the focus seems to shift from fundamental duties toward proliferating rights. As more “rights” are created and promised by those in power, it increasingly distracts individuals from their obligations to perform their fundamental duties, and increases their dependence on those who provide these “rights”. As duties are forgotten and rights multiply, the barter and promise of competing rights becomes the public debate. Then the social progress of the society grinds to a halt as real outcomes are replaced by noise and fury.

The State’s Promises of Rights, Free Men Transformed Into Vassals

Instead of reminding individuals of their obligations to provide for themselves and their family, the state promises “rights” of healthcare, housing, jobs, and income. This continues until individuals no longer have the will or even the knowledge of how to perform their duties if they wanted to. Thus, through small steps and supposed good intentions, free men are transformed into vassals, as their existence is now controlled by the state and can be manipulated by providing and withdrawing those things that they no longer have the knowledge or ability to provide for themselves.


  1. There is great truth in your words. However, a FEW on both sides of the swinging pendulum want dialog and reason more than pointing out the errors of having a different opinion and do seek to unite upon the greater commonality of life rather divide in death.
    The question is how many will listen to what voice and follow principles?
    James 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

  2. Excellent observation. It is the self reliant individual that decides, freedom or slavery. Society/governments cannot take away something from me unless I choose to let them. I choose to be self-reliant. I choose to be free. I choose not to be a victim. I choose to be honorable. I choose to do what is right. I chose to serve my country.
    To be a self- reliant individual you need to be able to think and make decisions. To be able to choose, involves a thorough education that challenges you to think for yourself. Above all you need good mentors. An ignorant man is no match for a man that is able to think for himself. Ignorance breeds chaos and destruction. Knowledge breeds freedom and truth. I choose freedom. What do you choose?

  3. In order to keep our nation ‘free’ our elected officials in all branches of government MUST agree to upholding our Constitution as it is written. Our Constitution should NOT be open to ‘interpretation’. When it is the very meaning and intentions begin to erode (perhaps those politicians and judges know this). The same goes for God’s Word–the Bible. This holy Book of God’s instructions should NOT be interpreted as has been done for so many generations breeding the false prophets that speak heresy.

    1. “It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found.

      The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force.

      Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.”

      —–James Monroe, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1817

      “(You have) a Republic, if you can keep it.”

      —–Benj. Franklin, final day of the Constitutional Convention, 1787

  4. While the Holy Bible makes no mention of the United States of America, a clear majority of our nations founders clearly were Christian, and even those few who weren’t in their hearts still did apply Christian principles to their governance of this nation. Thus the opening of the Declaration wherein those founders stated first and foremost that rights were bestowed by our Divine Creator, not a human government or society.

    So if you want to practice those rights, it is first incumbent upon each individual, you and I, to establish a loving and fearful relationship with the God who exists in three persons. Then we can say we deserve and apply those rights. Without that relationship we become mere squabbling humans at the same level as the pagans.

    Our God reigns supreme. Make sure our claim on rights reflects that in our statements rather than just presenting our armed belligerence to opposition.

  5. Mathew 24:22 says, And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elects sake those days shall be shortened.

  6. “The State’s Promises of Rights, Free Men Transformed Into Vassals”

    The background to FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights”.

  7. “I wonder if the emperor Honorius, watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill, truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall?

    This is just another page in history, isn’t it. Will this be the end of our civilization.

    Turn the page.”

  8. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American… The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people. (William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal)

  9. In 2 Peter 3:10-11
    “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
    11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people you ought to be in Holy conduct and godliness.

    With the above future clearly showing how this world is going to be destroyed why worry about any government?

    God is control of the days of your life, not government.
    Get right with God through Jesus Christ.

  10. One omission in this article: When we speak of the ‘state’ granting ‘rights’, we should not forget that according to the Declaration of Independence’ there are certain unalienable rights (intrinsic to our very being) that are not ‘granted’ – for example, life (and our right to defend it) even if the state should declare that there is no such ‘right’, ‘for the good of the state.’


  11. My rights are inherent. God grants them. I only submit to government authority as directed biblically. I render unto Caesar what is Caesars.
    A “Stoic” is someone who fails to recognize the power and loving nature of God. The apotle John wrote about this extensively.
    I separate myself out from the world although I must exist in it temporarily. I do not plot against it nor do I prep for war against it. I belong to a Kingdom greater than where fallen man excels and advances.
    I prep for life eternal, not mere existence on earth.

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