Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Do the rights thing? by Keith Bender

Do the right thing, I've heard people say this like some mantra that guarantee's the desired outcome. As if you can always know what that is? The right thing to do is based on what? Some spiritual connection threading its way through our reality helping those who ask? Or boring ethics we ignored in school? Maybe it’s a new form of wishing people good luck when we really don't know what else to say. More probably, I hope it's an indication that we are advocating for behavior that we all deem is acceptable. Like putting people and the planet first before profits and other things like that.

Doing the Human Rights thing takes a little more knowledge than the ever-pleasing but self-centered world renown sentence nearly everyone can blurt out..... that pursuit of happiness thing. The proper context allows us to reclaim and gather our strength away from the noise we live with in our heads, competing forces struggling for our attention. When was the last time you took time to review your rights and a little history surrounding their creation? A tour of Wikipedia may very well restore some hope in humanity if you are currently feeling disenfranchised or outcast by the Financial Racism this consumer oriented object addicted society has nurtured. You know the one I mean. The place where no place is okay if you don't have an address with legit sleeping quarters attached to it. Where you know something’s wrong but you just can't put your finger on it. The place where the Police enforce property rights as precedent over human needs.

"WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF EVIDENT. THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL,

THAT THEY ARE ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS,

THAT AMONG THESE ARE LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF SAFETY AND HAPPINESS."

George Mason in the Virginia Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1 uses "the pursuit of Safety and Happiness." Thomas Jefferson used the combined reference again in his Rough Draft of the Declaration of Independence. Safety somehow gives way to Life and Liberty along the way and by the time it reaches Madison's desk we cover the uncovered expanse of human needs and rights in the line:

SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED TO DENY OR DISPARAGE OTHERS RETAINED BY THE PEOPLE.

The "Others" is rights not spelled out for reasons obvious once the context of enumeration is understood. We pride ourselves in response to everyday crisis. Begin to falter when major catastrophe like Katrina or 9/11 come along and Chronic problems of safety like Homelessness seem to somehow provide a negative payback we can use to feel more fortunate about as we play the consumer game described at the Story of Stuff.

The American Dream needs its counterpart, The American NightMare? NOT!!! As polite as I can be I admit to being one of those Financial Racists I complained about earlier. A denial mechanism? A way to allow or permit this behavior to continue while I went about my life unaffected by and disengaged from feelings that would have told me something is really wrong here. Too caught up in the CAPITALISM game to realize that falling off the playing board had no real way back.

If Ending Homelessness is really our goal then like a Gold miner knowing that you have to clear a route by blasting away rock, our last 10 feet that stand in the way of the gold, the Safety clarification, is that rock needing blasting. This clarification of safety as a right must be seen as a mandate. It really is time we did the right thing for our homeless.

Keith Bender lives in West Springfield, VA where he is a writer, blogger, advocate, and "new wave old hippy." He previously was a realtor and owner of a homestaging business. Keith was recently homeless for over a year.

2 comments:

Slum Jack said...

Ah yes -- The Right Thing.

It's an old world. And it all got to be just like it is right now as a result of what everyone's done, in fact.

There's a vague sense that what's good for all is good for each. But day by day and play by play, opportunities for individual advantages or even just putting things off a bit or overlooking some unfortunate doings is so ... easy. Tempting.

Unless and until it comes home to roost and hits one where one lives, adversely. By then, it may be too late.

Keith Bender said...

Human Rights are like Oxygen. For a Happy Healthy Life you need both.
http://Oxygen4.Life is my advocacy conversation starter. What I set out to
do 6 years ago I am doing now. Returning to this Post helps center and balance
myself and remember why I am here.

When I wrote this post at the invite of John I was far along the way of my Recovery
from being Homeless and yet missed a very important part of Article 1 Section 1 that
I am embarrassed to admit. The Va. Declaration of Rights art.1 sect.1 not only mentions
the Pursuit of Happiness and Safety but The OBTAINMENT of these. Huge difference.

This tells me that most people can be blind to their Rights even when hidden in plain sight.
I set out to discover the cause or the why of Homelessness and could not see the word OBTAIN
though in front of me as I read the Declaration learning the words by repeating Them over and
over again as if meditating on the meanings. How that happened ? I don't know but it adds to
my finding that "We the People" are grossly out of touch with what we claim to live and die by.
The Winter Blizzard just past and God knows how many Homeless will have died in the storm.
We value our Property more than we Value the Rights we claim establishes that Ownership.

Why wouldn't I not see the obvious? Denial and wanting to fit in with my peer group would
support this "Blindness". It would be easier to remain ignorant than assume the required
responsibility needed to assert our Rights for Us. For Me yes for Us No. So, we triage the wounded
and perpetuate the root causes. We focus on the wounded and question their failings. As if it is only
because of some defect of character that they are in the situation they are in.

We allow Money to dictate the Economy as if our decisions don't add up to enough to choose
how we want to live and adjust that Economy to suit what a Democracy is supposed to mean.
And that brings me back to wondering how many people see that word Obtain and believe that
a Government of the People by the People is even possible. We recite the Declaration of Independence
but haven't a clue that that sells us short. 17 States share the Art 1 Sect 1's Pursue and Obtain Happiness
and Safety. California, Pennsylvania ( they will say they are the First) ,Ohio and even Nevada are in
that count.

The Level Playing field needs Referee's that know the rules and will ENFORCE them. Too many
interconnected elements can jump in waving that they are more important and may seem compelling
but the recipe needs to be followed and then you can salt to taste. We are the Players and the referee's.
Don't expect someone to tell you what your Rights are. Mutual Opposition rules the Commons.

Affordable Housing First is the Priority Solution to prevent and end Homelessness. The war needs
to be waged on that front. Not "Fighting Homelessness" but asserting Article 1 Section 1 and calmly holding
our ground. The Right to Housing comes from this. Why would it be Article 1 Section 1?