Rights and Responsibilities

by Pat Takacs MSN, RN

(Plain Press, February 2021) In our current cultural climate, we hear a great deal about “Rights”. My rights, our rights, all personal statements. But what about the rights of the “Other”?

   What actually are the rights we hear touted as granted by the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States? In a quick study, the Constitution of the United States is clear about our laws, our rights, our freedoms, and our responsibility to the common good of all citizens.


   First, only a few rights are unalienable (can’t be taken away under any circumstances as they are part of being human). These include the right to work and enjoy the fruits of our labor, the right to act in self-defense, and to worship within a freely chosen religion, or not. 

   Second, to be “free” means: “….to be able to do the doable without being subject to unjust constraints. It doesn’t mean that any of us can trample on the rights of others, though we’re still struggling to understand and institute the latter” (Leah Curtin, RN, ScD(h), FAAN, November, 2020). 

   Third, along with personal rights comes the requisite responsibility to maintain them for self and others. Therefore, we don’t have the freedom to infect, beat or kill others. Why? Because that violates other people’s unalienable rights. 

   The right of individual freedoms includes legal limits, especially individual acts that harm, or can potentially cause harm, to others. The illness we see is: “Toxic Individualism” (ibid, November 2020). We have seen much of this in the past few months. I am struck by how well other countries have risen to the occasion of quelling this pandemic’s spread to put aside their individualism and seek the common good. They choose between rights and responsibilities, between freedom and law. Yet we continue to say good-bye to too many good and great people, stretching our hospitals’ resources to the breaking point, and closing our schools, to say nothing of devastating our economy. And now we have acts of sedition and insurrection against our very Democracy. 

   It is time for all of us to stand back from “self” and look at “other”, which has been shown by many citizens in our own cities and counties in Ohio. We especially have seen this in our children. They have risen up to raise money for the food banks, make masks, and other very generous acts of selfless “other”.  Let the little children lead us into becoming “other oriented” in this new year. Continue to wear masks, social distance, and receive the COVID vaccination. Let us again be: “One Nation Under God”.  Future generations will thank us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: