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The Motives Behind Human Rights

Updated: May 18

(For more on rights, click here)

Objectively, there is no such thing as "human rights," the same as there is no such thing as "plant rights" or "planet rights" in the world that exists beyond our thoughts. What exists are first and foremost a set of agreements we have between each other. Since we are afraid of dying prematurely and/or undergoing a great ordeal of suffering, we thus limit ourselves in order to live more decently. We call this set a right in order to show to each other how important it is in our eyes, all because we cannot help ourselves entirely.

Take welfare, for example. It is believable that some people have the special right to receive support from the state, because otherwise they wouldn't be able to survive without this help. Don't get me wrong; I myself live on welfare due to my disabilities, but what I believe I know in this subject, is that I so-called "deserve" welfare money because I cannot help myself like the common men or women. Thus, we the disabled fight to advocate a reasonable pay of welfare so we would be able to sustain ourselves. And what other way to promote such an agenda than calling it a "right"? The right to live decently?

This does not have to include special rights. In the world beyond the mind, no one is entitled to anything, and likewise some nations may not think that things like safety, freedoms, and democracy are important enough to be enforced by the authorities. Outsiders may call these nations as those who violate human rights, but what actually are these human rights, beyond whatever we agree to advocate between ourselves and each other?

Why are we entitled to safety, to individual freedoms, and to democracy when there isn't necessarily an objective, universal set of rules to how people should live, and how states are best governed? Technically, as long as a country has the powers to protect itself from the outside world, such as in the case with North Korea, what power do human rights advocates have, against one of the biggest military forces in the world? Again, I'm not advocating against human rights, I just tend to believe they are universal.

And why is that? It's because when someone comes to you with a knife and threatens to kill you, you expect not only safety, but justice to be done as well to the harasser. The sad truth is, that not all police forces in the world would, theoretically, fulfill their jobs competently, if at all. Not all police forces are necessarily funded as they should, not all are clean enough from corruption and so forth.

What I'm trying to convey by this example is this: the theory of universal human rights must also entail that there is universal justice to enforce it, and yet, this world is very unjust, regardless of said theory. If the world is unjust, then why "pretend" we are entitled to human rights just because we have a vision of how "should" the world be? More than anything, claiming that there are universal human rights is like claiming there is universal justice and other forms of entitlements this existence just doesn't have.

This is why what we do have are just agreements between us "commoners" and the authorities of our local nations. Since we do not live in a one-government world, countries are to mostly do as they please when regarding their own concept of what rights should its residents and citizens have. If a small SWAT team is assaulting your house and you have no way to protect yourself other than your knowledge of your rights in those exact moments, what are the odds that said knowledge will stop their invasion of your property?

In a way, we very much appreciate human rights not because we are absolutely entitled to them, but because we fear forces greater than us, or in other words, the government and its authorities. Perhaps we can be elected to higher positions within our nations, but at the end we alone cannot overcome professional killers and soldiers, can we?

If a bear is coming to our cave and we are incompetent in properly defending ourselves, what can we do, metaphorically, other than to try and "convince" this "bear" that they shouldn't attack us, and thus, return to our beloved safety? Of course, it's not just about safety, it's everything else that involves either this greater force to leave us alone or to aid us if possible.

The worst scenario of human rights is not necessarily the lack of safety or individual freedom, but the mere thought of ourselves as food by other humans, or in other words -- what would you tell a cannibal about your rights? If the worth of a human is to be reduced to that of any other meat, than why would we as humans have universally-entitled set of rights?

For meat-lovers, would your hamburger have the right to be safe from you eating it? Most likely not, at least practically, but the idea of cannibalism, which is by the way still existent according to this article, is perhaps the final blow to the idea that we are some higher-than-nature beings that deserve things we are too weak to either get or to preserve on our own.

In the end, what are we humans? We surely are a phenomenon in this sentience-sparse universe, but we have yet to become so-called "gods" or "demi-gods" who are able to overcome the forces of nature and reality on our own. This is why the vast majority of us are in need of collaboration in order to get things done and to ensure our survival.

Hence why most of the world's countries are gracious enough to actually care for their citizens in some way or another, to the point of even allowing them to change their own leaders (at least in some of said countries). However, other than our blessed uniqueness as a species, capable of immense cooperation and interaction, in the end we are just meatbags who happen to form complex languages and thoughts.

Some of us are far stronger, smarter, and/or wealthier than the rest, but even they are not able to be the purely one-man-army that we see so much in movies, TV shows, and video games. Doomguy from DOOM doesn't need help other than the ammunition he finds in his way! He's a total badass!

We all need help, whether by intention, preparation, or circumstance, and without it, we'd either die quickly or have very poor lives.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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