rights of children

rights of children

Difference Between the Individual and the Person: Proposition

family, individuals, persons, rights of children No comments

The difficulty with sociology is that it mainly deals with individuals and rarely with persons (though Mark Regnerus’ latest book, Cheap Sex, does both).

An individual is one among many.  A person is unique – unique to those who know him and relate with him.  Thus we are unique to our mothers who tend to know us better than anyone else, at least in our early years, and likely always in our fundamental personality.  We are unique to our spouses whether blessed with a good marriage, or not.  Sometimes a special friend knows us best for we have revealed more of ourselves to them than to anyone else.

We know we have individual rights — both universal rights and political rights unique to our citizenship.  Universal rights belong to all.  Individual political rights belong to those on whom they are conferred by the polis, by the community acting as a political entity.  Universal rights cross all borders; political rights are confined within political borders, and even within groups within these borders.

But do we have any personal rights distinct from individual rights?

Strangers I meet on the street are individuals to me and have individual rights I must respect.  But they are not yet persons for me, though they are persons to others.

However they are very much persons to their mothers, in whose womb they grew, whose eyes first looked into theirs and saw their first smile of “happy to be with you”.  Most of them are very much a person to their fathers, in a relationship that might rival that with their mother, if they are blessed.  Then with their siblings if they are blessed with a happy family life. And so the circle of person-ness extends outwards through close relationships.

If I have an enemy – one who wishes me ill – that changes my sense of myself and I am a different person because of that relationship. I know evil in an intimate way.  That makes me a different person.  If I have many enemies that shapes me into yet a more different person.

I may be blessed with many loving relationships.  I may be cursed with many personal enemies.

My relationships do not make me an individual.  I was an individual before I had any personal relationships.

What I am makes me an individual.  Whom I relate with makes me who I am.  The more loving relationships I have the easier it is for me to relate with others and with myself.   The more negative relationships I have the more difficult it is for me to relate with others and with myself. Our relationships amplify or detract from our ability to harness our capacities for good.

Are there any loving relationships to which I have a “right” — relationships which the other person has a duty to provide to me?

I posit there are three.  Everyone has a right to the loving relationship of their mother in the early years of our life. And the same is true of his father.  These two beings (father and mother) brought us into existence and thus conferred all the burdens of existence as well.  And to bear these burdens, to thrive in an ordinary, basic, human way we will need their loves.

But  we also need their love for each other because without that milieu of mutual love we cannot become fully the ordinary person we are constituted to become.  Just as it would be inhuman for my parents to deprive me of the oxygen I need to breath so too it is inhuman to deny me the atmosphere of love I need to become a person capable of relating well and intimately.

And because this is a universal need, a universal situation for every newborn, it is a universal right — a most appropriate “ask”. Universally is it a most appropriate “demand” of every child, a demand of the man and the woman who brought him into existence.

In the end, the very end, the most valuable reality I bring into the next life  is the web of loving relationships I have built; and the greatest concern I will have are the bad relationships I have caused.  I am what I have made of my relationships.  In the end only love endures.  Or hate.

The Universal Right of the Child to the Marriage of His Parents

children, culture, family, marriage, rights of children 3 comments

No topic has more power to transform the male-female debate, the chastity debate, the abortion debate, the divorce debate and the feminist debate than the right of the child to the marriage of his (or her) parents.

Every child has this right from the moment of conception.  The child did not ask to come into existence but was brought into existence by the action of two people, a male and a female.[1]

Without his parents’ married love and commitment the child is not going to thrive the way he should.  He is not going to reach his “ordinary” potential.  It is a pretty clear cut case of a one-way obligation.  The child is not obligated to his father and mother — at this stage of his existence.

The adults (sexually mature: as in capable of transmitting life) are the ones with obligations towards the child, towards this new person they have most seriously affected — for the rest of his existence.

However this obligation cannot be enforced by law because the marriage of the father and the mother has to be entered into freely.  It is invalid if forced. So how do we ensure this right of the child?

We do it by culture — by the cult (cultivation) of moral responsibility for sexual acts.  This new person is the main (most serious) consequence of sexual activity.  Sexual intercourse is designed to produce children.  Nature pushes that way with extraordinary force.  It is extraordinarily serious.  The onus on the “actors” is heavy and long-term.

Living cultures get that point across.  That is why they shepherd sexual intercourse into marriage.

Every child has the right to the marriage of its parents —even if the parents do not give it or withdraw it.  The right still stays.  The violation of this right does not take away the right but only makes it clearer than ever.  It is in its absence that we see the effects of its withdrawal: children don’t reach their potential – for learning and earning, for living longer, for being happy, for marrying in adulthood, even for having and raising their own children.

So where do we start to get this right restored to its proper place in society?

One obvious place to start is in the churches.

Can Christian churches teach this?

Would your pastor be willing to say so from the pulpit?  If not why not?

Have you ever heard of such a sermon?

What would its effects be – after the commotion died down and folk accepted the obvious?

Teen chastity would soar.  Abortions would plummet.  Marriage would increase.  Divorce would plummet – at least in the churches. And with all these changes a host of other great changes would follow.

I suspect nothing would have the impact on shaping the culture than a restoration of respect for this fundamental, universal right of every child.

Would you bring it up with friends and see what they say?  What are the obstacles to getting adults to assent to this, first privately and then more publicly among their friends and colleagues?

Let me know what you think and what you find out. Comment below or email me directly at pat.fagan.marri@gmail.com

 

[1] A different essay could explore the rights of the child brought into existence by modern technologies and teams.

 

The Right of Children to the Marriage of their Parents

children, marriage, parents, rights of children 3 comments

The right of children to the marriage of their parents is foundational to religious practice and to strong cultures.

This much-neglected right of children is critical to the future of nations.  It is a natural right, not a politically conferred right. It arises from the order of nature. It rests on justice, for without their parents’ marriage children are condemned by them to a lesser life. Parents are also condemning themselves, at minimum, to lifelong guilt.

When acculturated the effect of this life is to increase chastity and marriage among young people, reduce (almost eliminate) out of wedlock births, reduce abortion rates massively, and similarly reduce divorce rates among parents.

Aside from the love of God I can think of no other phenomenon that can deliver such powerful consequences.  The child draws our better natures forth from within us.  In every aspect of our lives, the child can transform our potential into reality.   The child even causes adults to turn (or return) to God.

But this right now gets universal silent treatment.  In public discourse, it is absent. In rights discourse, it is absent.  In the classrooms of universities, law schools, high schools, middle schools and even of seminaries it is absent.  Most debilitating of all, it is absent in churches, synagogues and mosques.

But we all need it. Every baby born needs it to thrive.  Every teenager needs it to help motivate sexual control; every dating couple needs it so that they can freely cross the winning line of marriage; every married couple tempted by divorce needs it, so that they repair their marriage and grow in the strength needed to be lifelong spouses.  Children make adults of their parents.  They draw them out of themselves and on to heights of virtue they would not attempt without their children.

The nation’s future needs it because in its absence it is growing citizens without chests.

It is a right that cannot be enforced by government directly, for marriage must be freely chosen.  Therefore the institutions of religion, family and education must be to the fore in teaching and thus “enforcing” this right.

Slowly and steadily, the nations with such a culture will survive and thrive. Those without it will wilt, be overcome and disappear.

It is powerful in its consequences. It is foundational natural law, and reminds me my high school headmaster’s favorite quote: “The wheels of God grind slowly but they grind exceeding small.” Or as Richard Feynman put it:  “Nature cannot be fooled.”

 

The Different Sexual Signals of Different Baby-Making Cultures

rights of children, sexuality No comments

All children have the right to the marriage of their biological parents because without it they will not become the persons they could have become.  This however is more honored in the breach than the observance.  There are exceptions but they are few; and that paucity proves the rule.

Many today disagree with this statement of this universal natural right of the child. Not because it is not true, but because they claim their own adult rights trump the rights of their biological children.   Such ‘rights claims’ make for different communities–communities that differ in their “baby-making life scripts”–and the induction of their children into these scripts.  That induction, though it starts in infancy, becomes very serious at puberty.  It is then that sexual signals and what they convey regarding “baby-making” life scripts becomes an intense topic of discussion for all: for the teenagers, their parents, their pastors and their teachers.

Different cultures have different life-script sexual signals but all have signals.  And different sexual signals indicate different cultures and the need for boundary marking and honoring of those borders.  The response to such signals is one of two:  “I am part of your community” or “I am of a differing baby-making life script community”.  When the response indicates a difference then the respondent in turn expects “OK, and I respect the difference.”  Should that happen there is comity, should it not we have the beginning of tyranny at an interpersonal level.

Today more flash points between modern communities or subcultures are arising. Radical individualism is not only forming its own very different culture and baby-making communities, but increasingly is adopting a non-accepting attitude to differing life script communities.

This totalitarian attitude is even more dangerous because the social science data repeatedly demonstrate that the intact (monogamous) family that worships weekly is the most socially productive on all measures, and the further one moves away from that “best model” the weaker the children produced.  Thus the radical individualism turned totalitarian is in danger of destroying the best, that which is most deserving of protection.   And the first duty of government is to protect the good and the innocent, which clearly includes the intact married family that worships weekly — in community. It has very clear and different sexual signals.

America protects the radical individualist communities and cultures. The issue of the day is whether it can it protect its older communities and cultures as well as the new immigrant communities who have many of the same “baby-making scripts”.