With a definition and a non-example last week of natural rights I feel ready to explain what natural rights I believe we have. Or at least walk you through the thought process of why we have the one that I believe we have. In my opinion, we only have one natural right, a right that is not dependent on anything else, and a right that is inalienable and universal. That right is the “right to choose from the choices we have with the constraints imposed on us by natural and unnatural laws.”
When I first started thinking about this I was adamant that we have the “right to choose.” And that was it. But it doesn’t fit what a natural right is. For example, I don’t have the ability to choose to fly on my own, I can choose to try and fly on my own, but I can’t choose to fly on my own, natural law says that I cannot fly on my own because I am a big old fat guy and would drop like a rock. This means that choice itself is limited, choice alone is not a natural right, choice must have constraints.
Another example, babies cannot choose to talk in a way that I can understand them. They can try, but they cannot do, that choice is not one they can make, so again, they are limited by the natural laws that constrain their abilities; age and intelligence. Both this and the previous example have constraints by natural laws. In both cases choice was dependent on natural law allowing for the capability to act.
An example of choice constrained by unnatural laws, would be a choice that is limited by laws of man, society, religion, or anything else that isn’t natural in and of itself. For example, I can choose to drive to Area 51, I can choose to walk onto their property, but I cannot choose to not be shot for doing it. I cannot control another person, and the law that is in place gives permission to those on the base to shoot me just for being there. I am constrained in my choices once I walk on that property. I have given away my choices, I have made them alienable.
Another example of choice constrained by unnatural laws is slavery. Unfortantly slavery still exists in the world today, slavery can exist in the physical sense that most people think about, and it can exist in the metaphorical sense that we are enslaved by our own passions. In both cases unnatural law limits our actions. A slave cannot choose to not be a slave, they may run away, be declared free by another country or man, but if ever captured by their owner, they would be a slave again. A slave to passions or appetite cannot choose to never be tempted by their passion once they have rid themselves of it. Once again they are constrained in their choices. In both cases, in all cases, their freedom that they so desire is not guaranteed to them just because they exist, it is not universal.
But in all cases mentioned above, they did have some freedom. In all cases not mentioned, every person has some freedom to choose. Whether that choice is as broad as combinations of toppings on your subway sandwhich or as narrow as deciding whether you do or don’t want seconds for dinner. The right you have “is the right to choose from the choices we have with the constraints imposed on us by natural and unnatural laws.”
The most examplifiable way to show this right, and the most freedom you have in your choices, is your right to choose your attitude. No matter what happens, from the baby who is screaming because they are hungry (the baby could choose to not scream, unlikely but still doable), to the slave who decides to have hope of escaping their enslavement, to the wealthy or poor person deciding to be happy, each person has the ability to choose their attitude which fits inside the broader right mentioned above. The “right to choose from the choices we have with the constraints imposed on us by natural and unnatural laws.”
Charles Horikami is a Social Studies Teacher at BLMS, and the Legislative District 32 Chair for the Idaho State Republican Party. The views expressed are not representative of the BLSD or of the Idaho State Republican Party. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and welcomes all comments and critiques.