The Flight of Meaning

There is an empty idea traipsing about in the political world today that seems to be accepted everywhere with nods of heads and polite claps, yet it seems to be like a hot air balloon, floating further and further from reality with every blast from the newspaper-fed furnace. On Christmas Eve it culminated with a ‘gift’ from our president, which is much like a robber stealing your nice winter coat and handing you back the hood ‘in the spirit of Christ.’ I feel less grateful, and more annoyed that the Spirit doesn’t get a say in the matter.

This idea began, as most ideas do, firmly planted on the ground in the days when ideas were allowed to do such a thing. Our forefathers called them ‘rights,’ and kept them squarely lined up and penned in, shoo-ing off unnecessary additions and otherwise being quite miserly and judicious in their use of the word. Like every child, we grew up and decided to spite our fathers, and now we have rights spilling from our noses and ears, and there may very will be more ‘rights’ than ‘wants’ left.

It is quite curious that, in the golden age of liberalism and revolution, the Rights of Man were grounded in ‘God and nature’. How ‘inalienable’ and ‘inherent’ they were, the basis of freedom and justice, spread out upon our hearts and planted in our minds, so that we knew who was slave and who was free. Ah, how that knowledge has gone, and now the Free-man is slave to the State, and the State slaves for the politician. For now, the word ‘right’ has spread its wings and taken flight from its meaning!

In a newspaper just the other day, I stumbled upon this: ‘Despite all the compromises, it has finally been possible to ensure something so fundamental, as the right of every American not to be financially shipwrecked when their health fails them.’ Here we see the flight of meaning – nonsense on the back of an eagle, a ‘tongue dropping Manna.’

Let us propose, for fancy’s sake, that it is a Right to be granted health care without means of payment. Now, let us suppose that this doctor wished to vacation – perhaps a week to rest his wearied body from providing all the patches and band-aids his poor hands could wrap up. But a crisis of sorts occurs, perhaps a mass golfing-accident, or an epidemic of broken noses, and the hospital is short a doctor. How far does this ‘right’ go? Is the doctor recalled from his vacation for the good of the state? If none of these men can pay, does he work for free? What if, in a strange occurrence, all the doctors were to disappear to, say, the Bahamas. What of our ‘right,’ now? Do we ship the sick to the warmer clime to follow them? Or maybe we take the Bahamas by force, so that we once again have a population of doctors ready to work for us?

If it is fundamental for every American to be provided for, who is to do the providing? Why, this doctor of course, and fie on his rights!

For this ‘fundamental right’ does nothing more than trample on the rights of other men. A ‘right’ that requires a service is no more than the imposition of slavery. We do not have the ‘right’ to blueberry pies on Tuesday nights, though I often desire one, and feel it would vastly benefit the humour of the population. We do not have the ‘right’ to whiskey on long days, though I often fume that Templeton cannot provide it, and curse their heartlessness for being short of it. And we do not have the ‘right’ to a doctor to care for us, though I may be sick as a dog and wheeling rapidly towards deaths door.

The Rights of Man are grounded, and once uprooted they wither and die. That God granted man Life does not mean he granted him Health, for to say that is to ignore the very fabric of life. That God granted man Liberty does not mean he granted him Housing, for to say that is to ignore the very world surrounding us. That God granted man the Pursuit of Happiness does not mean he granted him Happiness, for to say that is to ignore our own hearts.

Yet this is what is being spouted and applauded by our politicians and our journalists, absent of sense and absent of support. They pulled an idea out from the ground and let it fly to the air, telling us it is more beautiful brown and brittle than green and glossy. For ‘their thoughts are low; to vice industrious – to nobler deeds timorous and slothful; yet they please the ear’.

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