Friday, June 24, 2011

Being Poor With Flair: Rights and Responsibilities

I've noticed, through my years of living, that a certain sort of person is likely to insist on his or her rights in any given situation.

Specifically, the person most likely to loudly demand their rights is also the person most likely to deny that they have responsibilities. And I've noticed that it's more often poor people who demand rights, while middle class and rich people understand and fulfil their responsibilities.

Now, I do understand that as a poor person, your rights are more likely to be overlooked by the authorities, and by other people in general.

BUT (and this is truly a huge BUT) you can do a great deal to prevent the worst of this trampling by living responsibly.

You have a responsibility first and formost to yourself. If you take care of your health and your finances, you'll be less likely to need to demand your rights to quality health care and to social services.

You have a responsibility to your spouse if you have one, and to any children you have begotten. If you fulfil those responsibilities without undue complaint, you'll be much less likely to have to defend your rights in a family law court.

You have a responsibility as a citizen to vote and to obey the laws of your city, state or province, and country. If you fulfil those responsibilities, you'll be less likely to need to defend your rights in a court of law.

You have a responsibility to every other person with whom you interact to treat them with respect due them simply because they're a human being. If you do this, you'll be less likely to need to demand your right to be treated with respect in return.

You have a responsibility to your employer to do the best work you can do while you're being paid to work. If you fulfil this responsibility, you'll be less likely to need to demand your right to unemployment pay.

Note first that I said, "Less likely." Life isn't perfect, or fair, and even people who behave themselves are going to get knocked about sometimes. It happens to everybody. Get back on your feet, get moving again, and in due time you'll get over it.

But my observations have been that folks who loudly insist on their rights without doing their best to fulfil their responsibilities tend to be both poorer and unhappier. They often think that the world is conspiring against them--and usually, they're right. Because they in return are conspiring against the world.

So stop the conspiracy! I've said many times that the only person in the whole wide world that you can change is you. If you change yourself and stop demanding your rights all the time, and instead focus on your responsibilities, you'll find that bit by bit the world will come to trust you, and stop hitting you back.

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