Before I start, let me ask you a simple but serious question:
Why is slavery wrong?
I mean it, why is slavery wrong? Is it that one person is said to own another? Well, why would that be wrong? Think about it as you read the rest of this post.
Most people never stop to think about what a right actually is. All they know is that they have needs, therefore, those things they “need” must be “rights.” After all, if you need food to live, you must have a right to food. So it is that we think we have a right to food, clothing, housing, a job and health care. Sadly, none of these things are rights. They can’t be – not unless you are going to say there is nothing wrong with slavery, that is.
Now, think about this for a minute. What is wrong with slavery? If you boil it down to the most fundamental thing, isn’t it that one person is forcing another to do something against their will. If you accept this, then how can you claim to have a right to anything that requires another person to do something for you? If you claim that you have a right to food, you just claimed a right to force the farmer to grow for you, the trucker to drive for you and the merchant to sell to you. After all, if they do not do those things, you cannot get food, and if you have a right to that food, then they must do those things. They do not have a choice. Therefore, if you claim a right to food, clothing, housing, a job and health care, you just made slaves out of a great many people. So it would seem that, whatever a right is, it must be something that you and you alone can claim and exercise without trampling on the rights of another person. Think of it this way: a right must be something that you can claim and exercise if you are stranded on a deserted island.
Now, if you are one who happens to think that we are the product of a bunch of random elements getting together and conspiring to violate the second law of thermodynamics to spontaneously create life, then you shouldn’t be talking about rights at all. If we are an accident of a violation of the universal laws of physics, then there can be no such thing as a right. If you doubt this, just go ask the lion how much right the zebra has to her body or life. And if you think that a silly illustration, then point me to the nearest safari court where the zebras are trying the lion for murder.
But notice how this illustration brings us to another interesting aspect of this thing we call rights: a connection to that thing we call “justice.”