When we talk about education as a human right, medical care as a human right, food, housing, access to information, access to reproductive information and health care, this is what human beings do in a secular society. We define for ourselves what natural rights are. We decide which are inalienable, we decide what attach themselves to the human condition.
And that is because the alternative- to assume that human rights are mandated by some universal intelligence or god is to presume a whole lot not in evidence and a lot that can’t be demonstrated. It requires us first to agree on the nature of a god, and next to agree on those mandates themselves. Obviously, the people who worship god still are unable to find common ground on their mandates, so we are left farther behind. And are a prisoner to revelation. Revelation that is immune to research, to experience, to the changing, evolving nature of human ethics.
Humans have the power to determine our own rights. We have the power to build the kinds of world we want. We have the power to make paradise out of this place we are.
We have the power to say that a strong market is a good thing, driving innovation and letting people build businesses and things that can serve everyone, but with a powerful and compassionate social substrate that can ensure that no one is run over by the wheels of progress, that people have the freedom to fail at times without dying, and that groups of people can thrive even when unforeseen circumstances pulls the industries they work for down around them.
When someone counters you and insists that access to education or that access to healthcare or reproductive health materials can’t be a human right, please fight back. This is not only our freedom, as intelligent people with will in a secular universe, but also our responsibility, our job. And it’s a never-ending job. So when someone says something like, “well, access to feminine hygiene and sanitary materials wasn’t considered a human right when they wrote the Bible so it isn’t now.” Don’t stop pushing.
We can live in a world restricted by the vision of people thousands of years ago or we can live in one that evolves and changes to meet our newer understandings of ethics and necessity, technology and humanity.
That is our choice.
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