There’s an old petition I stumbled across the other day. It was written in an old-fashioned kind of legalese, so I updated it a little to make it more modern. This is the gist of what it said.
Some truths are just obvious, so obvious that they do not require an elaborate proof, and so obvious that it is ridiculous to attempt one. Among these is the obvious truth that all human beings are equally responsible for their own consciences, behaviors, and actions. This means that all human beings have a right to live their own lives, to do whatever pleases them as long as it doesn’t interfere with the basic rights of others, and to be free to make their own decisions about their own lives.
The only real reason people agree to submit themselves to a government is to protect these basic human rights.
Thus, government comes out of the free, voluntary, and willing consent of ordinary people. The power of a government comes from the ordinary people who agree to be bound by its laws.
Because that’s where the government’s power comes from, and because the purpose of government is to protect basic human rights, it follows that whenever a government no longer protects these rights, or whenever a government begins to destroy these rights, then it is the responsibility of a good citizen to either change that government or to destroy it.
If the government does not or cannot protect basic human rights, the only moral course that a person can take is to participate in changing or abolishing the existing government.
Of course, as a practical matter, a long-standing government can’t be changed easily – and anyway, it shouldn’t be changed for minor or temporary problems. That’s simple human nature, because most people will put up with an awful lot of bad stuff before we’ll get off our rear ends and do anything about it! Especially if changing things means that … well, that things have changed. We like the familiar.
But when there’s a long and ongoing pattern of human rights abuses, and flagrant abuses of power including some people getting into office who aren’t legally qualified to do so or who cheated to get there, and there have been so many repeated offenses of this nature that it almost looks like there’s a plan to take all power away from the people and put it in the hands of bureaucrats – well, that’s when people have the right and duty to abolish the existing government. That’s when it is time to start a new government that will be more responsive to their needs and more likely to respect their rights.
Would you sign the above petition? Do you agree with it?