Not a day goes by that we don’t hear that word. Rights. It is a concept deeply ingrained in the fabric of human existence. You cannot watch the news or read a paper without coming across some kind of reference to the terminology. While we give our rights our utmost attention, why is it that we feel so comfortable letting the responsibilities that come with them slide downhill? Perhaps if we started to once again teach the concept of responsibility, some of the problems that are creeping into our culture would reverse themselves.

We are told that we have the right to life. I don’t know who decided on this, but hey, I’ll go along. It seems okay to me. After all, I am pretty glad to be here, and I hope to be for at least another couple of weeks or so at least.

Apparently, one of the benefits to being a Canadian is that we have the ‘right’ to a certain standard of income. If you don’t meet that standard, you are entitled to receive social benefits. That, apparently, is a right, and one that many young Canadians like to avail themselves to. They are told what criteria they must meet, and then they are eligible for welfare. Has anyone ever explained to these young adults that they also have responsibilities? It seems as though we lack when it comes to having any standardization of these. How about a responsibility to look for work? I am the guy who delivers the cheques, so I know that most do not even attempt to look for a job. If they do, getting out of bed at 2:00 pm is not going to help. What if we were taught to be responsible for taking care of ourselves? I hear many say that there is no use working for minimum wage because it just comes off of their cheque. Perhaps if they had been taught to have a work ethic, they would insist on at least working for minimum wage, so that their cheques would be smaller.

There is the right to abortion. Every woman in Canada has the right to end an unwanted pregnancy. What if we were to teach these women to perhaps be responsible in their actions, thus preventing the pregnancy in the first place? Think of the savings this would pass on through reduced health expenditures, not to mention the trauma they themselves would avoid.

The right to healthcare. We are taught that we are all entitled to health care that is paid for by every Canadian. We are never taught that perhaps with that privilege comes a huge responsibility. We must live a life that is conducive to healthiness, such as exercising and eating foods that are healthy. Children are taught about good health habits in school, but the concept of it being a responsibility is ignored.

Our justice system. Where to begin? It seems that the concept of responsibility has been so far removed that it is nonexistent. Criminals are never asked to take responsibility. In fact, we have a complete medical establishment called psychology that’s only purpose is to absolve us of any responsibility. We can always find someone else to blame. We even factor this rubbish in when we hand down the sentencing. We are all too familiar with headlines such as “Serial killer suffered abuse at the hands of his parents.” or “Judge takes into consideration abusive childhood.”

Parenting. Of course. Everyone that has a pulse is entitled to procreate in Canada. That is their ‘right.’ Once upon a time, we all had parents. One usually stayed home. My wife, for example, has the right to work, and always has. Once we started to have children, she surrendered that right willingly. She felt that she had a responsibility to stay at home and raise her children, the way her mother did. After all, she turned out pretty good, so why change a system that worked? As for me, I had to get a second job. It was temporary and only lasted nine years. Sure, it was hard, but I felt that I had a responsibility to my family, that I had to provide so that my wife could stay at home. Not once did I accuse my government of doing too little. Not once did I cry out for the lack of affordable daycare.

Of course, this should be a couple’s own decision, but this article is about responsibility, not decisions. We must start teaching our children how to be responsible people. Responsible Canadians, responsible parents, responsible husbands and wives. We are raised to believe that our government will do everything for us. Our government can only offer as much as it does because of those who feel that they have a responsibility to work and to be productive. Our standards are falling, not only because of mismanagement by a bloated federal government, but also because many Canadians are no longer feeling any compunction for not caring to take care of themselves.

I see many parents who don’t care for their children. They allow them to run the streets in the middle of the night, having respect for no one. Of course, there are many great parents, but wouldn’t it be great if they were all responsible parents? What a difference that would have.

The right to freedom. This is the right that Canadians seem to have the least understanding of. They believe that it is something simply given to them by their government. It is, in fact, a right and a privilege that come hand in hand, and it has awesome responsibilities, and one’s that Canadians for the longest time now have been shunning. It seems that we will not consider our duties until it is too late to do so. Freedom comes at a cost, as do all the other goodies that we think are just handed to us. The responsibility of freedom is that we must be diligent. We must hold our elected officials to a higher standard, which we presently do not. We must be vigilant and ensure that our constitution is upheld. We must ensure that our armed forces are prepared and able to protect us. We must raise our children to be patriotic, honest, truthful, and hard working. We must ensure that our children believe in truth and justice and fairness. These are the ingredients for freedom. Freedom does not just live somewhere. It is something that is fought for, that is worked for, and that is nurtured, lest it wilt and die. Canadians have become too complacent, and the roots of our freedoms are becoming brittle.

To ensure our country’s continued prosperity and even survival, Canadians must begin to think less of the rights that they so like to demand, and must think more of the responsibilities that come with them hand in hand. We must stop thinking so selfishly of ourselves, and yield some of ourselves to our country and to others. You can’t continue to harvest without sowing. I am not suggesting that we cast away our rights, God forbid. I only ask that we stop casting away the responsibilities that inherently come with them.

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