A question of rights

A question of rights

The creative urges will sometimes come when they will.

Sometimes, like this morning, it’s at an ungodly hour (approximately 1.30am), with an insistent push that jolted me awake, a recurring thought/idea twirling through my mind determined to be heard.

This morning’s incident was relating to Talyësaarthien’s Declaration of Sentient Rights: a set of ideas I’ve been working on since first introducing them in Volume 1 – Book 1. I’ve bounced the concept around a little since then, unsure what to do with it, unclear on how to solidify it. I had the vaguest of ideas, drawing on memories of a List of Rights I’d received in a course decades ago, which has long since been lost somewhere. I have since found a few lists of a similar nature. Then there is of course the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Whilst I had begun merging all these together many months ago, the last few weeks has seen the concept become a more persistent matter, demanding more of my attention. I think perhaps because of my growing focus on global politics, observing the increasing divergence of opposing forces, especially in the USA and the UK, but in many other countries also.

Strangely enough, I’m a lot less clear on Australian politics and what’s going on. Is that because it’s in some ways more personal?


I’m still undecided, though I do find myself continuously ambivalent concerning both major parties here, as well as the more peripheral entities/parties. The reason for that could be my own dismissiveness, as I find local politics less globally significant. Don’t say it! I know!! Not a good enough excuse! Grass roots and local is just as important!!!

But! As much as Australian politicians appear to revel in big-noting themselves and their importance in regional affairs, I’m inclined to consider our country a rather small fish (ignoring our landmass) in a rather large pond. We are, after all, surrounded by nations with far greater populations and superior economic clout. Yet our sense of self-worth, at least in the political arena, draws on our connections with our big brother, the USA, and our big sister, the UK, in a similar way to how a younger sibling might rely on the protection of much older siblings in a schoolyard. We don’t fully stand on our own two feet, because we don’t really know who we are without them. And dare I say, we lack the required humility that being truly independent might demand of us in dealing with our more immediate neighbours.

But I am digressing from my primary subject matter. And it is not my wish to make this post a long one, or a political one. Perhaps the larger political digression requires its own post someday. But not today.

So back to the Declaration of Sentient Rights.

The Rights, and my efforts to fine tune them, tie rather neatly with my own quest for understanding of what is fair to expect for all individuals across the globe, what I would consider fair to receive from everyone else, and what I should give of myself to others within any exchange.

It has been interesting reading the UN interpretation of this. I find myself not in agreement with all of it. Perhaps in days gone by I may have agreed a great deal more. Now, I look at them and find them a little more…socialist…in some of their leanings than I consider healthy for a more robust, and less authority dependent society. There are aspects to those Rights which require government intervention. As I interpret the document, there is no exception to this in certain cases.

And yet my mind looks back to older cultures, pre-industrialisation, or even contemporary tribal cultures, where the support structures were inbuilt to the fabric of the culture: for the elderly, for the disabled, for the disadvantaged, be that disadvantage temporary or permanent. Families, villages, communities, it seems to me, were far more likely to look after their own than we would necessarily consider doing nowadays. Society in many ways has become a great deal more selfish, more self-centred, more transactional than ever before. Especially in western cultures. We’ve witnessed the disintegration of the family unit, the absolving of responsibility toward the older generations, the focus on what we think is best for ourselves, often at the expense of others around us.

Were the outcomes at times more brutal in the past? Undoubtedly! The nature of existence back then was vastly different on many fronts. Decisions were more focused upon survival than is necessary today. Scarcity was a greater threat back then than we could ever expect to face in our modern world.

But is our modern abundance of resources making us more compassionate? Or more selfish?

Is it compassionate or selfish to maintain someone’s life on life-support?

Is it compassionate or selfish to expect our elders to live out their final days separated from family and friends in a nursing home?

Is it compassionate or selfish for governments to control so many aspects of our lives, from education, to work opportunities, to how we live, how we are permitted to express ourselves?

Is it compassionate or selfish for governments to create the opportunity for dependence upon social welfare structures by a growing number of individuals?

Having had a brother with profound and multiple disabilities, both physical and mental, I’ve explored both sides of this issue to some extent already. There were times I felt it was cruel that he should be supported to stay alive and be subjected to the will of others, be their intentions for good or ill, in residential care homes, with no way to exert his own will upon his life and what he experienced. Seeing him in an open ward arrangement during one stage of his life, which was so impersonal, where he experienced injuries and more through no fault of his own, there were times I thought he’d be better off dead. To me, that simply wasn’t living!

Yet, moving beyond that perspective, I was also able to see, at a deeper level, how his presence in our lives was an opportunity for us all to learn how to be more compassionate for the more vulnerable, and overcome our own selfish attitudes and behaviours for the sake of what might benefit those unable to even be selfish.

Modern life, with its somewhat socialist inclusions, derived from taxations and the welfare state, have provided support structures which may not have existed otherwise. Yet they’ve also made it easier for families to relinquish participation and responsibility for their own families, be they offspring, siblings or parents. I’ve seen that aspect of our modern world also. I’ve even seen it in my own thoughts and behaviours!

I do think something has been lost in our society since the advent of industrialisation, even if that loss has been gradual. It is a loss that has crept up on us in the guise of a supportive benefactor, yet has somehow dehumanised us in the subtlest of ways.

Cultures still rooted in older traditions have a greater sense of responsibility I feel, a greater connection to family, a greater desire to support, especially in times of need, than the more modern western civilisation I’m more familiar with and which increasingly permeates many parts of the globe. A large part of that stems, I believe, from faith and religion, though not from the perspective of dogma. I would suggest it is more from the perspective of morals and values that people of faith are more inclined to display.

With all these thoughts, all these considerations, for what is essentially a small aspect within a fictional work, I feel I may have produced more questions for myself than answers. Perhaps there are no specifically right or wrong answers to this process, at least not as regards my fictional work.

And perhaps I am simply lacking the courage to commit to the answers that feel right to me, to express my conclusions more emphatically out loud.

I have, I think, linked myself back to a previous blog referencing personal convictions and a fear of criticism or conflict. An interesting consideration. Learning is a circular process after all, where repetition helps deepen one’s understanding of the lesson(s) involved.

In the meantime, if it’s of interest, my own fictional Rights-in-progress can be found on the page below, with the UN declaration in the link below that.



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