Rights

This new years’ eve I arrived home in the wee hours, obviously battered, to find that there was no power, no electric: no lights, no telly, no laptop, no stereo, no heating… nothing…

I woke up the next day, tender, and plopped down the stairs ready for a new years’ coffee and bacon sandwich, to the sound of some new years’ tunes, warmed by the heating system… but there was still no power…

I minced about my home for a while… I got cold… I put on some more clothes… after a while I started to get pissed off… ‘How could this happen?’ thought I, ‘in this day and age… and on this day, of all days!’

Point is that for those few hours, until the power was restored at about midday, I was utterly lost… I had no idea what to do with myself; pretty much everything I do requires the use of electricity, a realisation not necessarily that profound, but startlingly disturbing when so practically demonstrated!

But the real shock was the indignation, the anger that I had felt. My emotions were riled because I thought that, on some level, somehow, my Rights had been violated… I have a Right to power, to warmth, to the internet and telly…

…after a while, a coffee and a pie, I sat there a-thinking… isn’t this how we all feel, everyday about everything we have? Some of us may be grateful for the things we have, but lots of us feel we have a Right to the things we have…

…we feel we have a Right to cars, to fuel, to food – lots of it, to fashion, to warmth, to have children in hospitals…

But is it the case that these are Rights? Take just about anything that I mentioned above (or nearly any other aspect of Western industrialised life), think about where they come from, how we came to enjoy them, and it is quite clear that instead of Rights, we have an abundance of ‘luxuries’… or at least, we have potential access to this abundance…

While the Christmas Number 1 battle was being decided by everyone’s Facebook status updates, something else was happening that roused not one single ‘like’ or ‘comment’… COP15… or to me and you, the Copenhagen Climate Summit.

Far from being a meeting of hippies and tree-huggers (who were there, kicking ass on our behalf) bleating about unimportant issues like mass extinction of hundreds of species, the decimation of habitat and other ‘soft’ issues, the COP15’s main theme was climate justice…

…because of the steady work of activists, journalists, scholars, scientists and the pissed-off populace of just about everywhere (but mostly the ‘over there’ countries… usually where brown people live) climate justice is the clumsy catch-all phrase that I use to refer to the convergence of many different threads of activism that have found a common, uniting principle and come together…

…climate justice is, roughly, the idea that while we ‘Westerners’ have grown so accustomed to our ‘luxuries’ that we now believe them to be our Right, we never acknowledge the fact – THE FACT – that for the most part, they are the product of stolen resources…

…it is the wasteful exhaustion of these resources that is causing the major changes in the environment, and as we gorge ourselves into fat-camps, ferrying ourselves about in our needlessly wasteful personal transport, burping and farting whilst our thumb expends the only energy we burn through exercise as it taps on a remote control, millions of people are physically losing their countries beneath the waves, countries still reeling from the rapacious violation of European Colonialism…

…another aspect of the way we think about ‘our’ Rights is who ‘We’ think we are… or perhaps a better way to put it is ‘when’ we think ‘we’ are…

…lots of people have children and they would have you believe that they ‘Love’ their children, and tell you as much, usually with an added tagline like, ‘I would do anything for my kids’ or something other bloated, unconsidered half-truth…

…I would never confront a parent with these ideas, because it would probably be unintelligible to them, but if we explore the ‘parental love’ idea we soon run into some murky and troublesome areas… to boil it down into its simplest formulation; for how long do you love your child?

Do you love them for all of their life? Does that means that you love them after you are dead? And if so, presumably, you have an interest in what kind of life they will have after you are gone? On the other hand, perhaps you only love them until you die? But does that mean that you only have a child because you want something to ‘love’, something to do with your life? And then, perhaps, this means that once you are dead… well… fuck ‘em?

These are important question, because the answers you get from them show you just how disgraceful an attitude to Life, Human Rights and Environmental and Social Responsibility people can have…

We are always so quick to defend our ‘luxuries’ as Rights… but if we actually take some time to actually think, actually spend some time to chip away at our soothing isolation tanks of anti-intellectualism, we would soon realise that we never chose this way of existence… and not long after that, we’d soon see that the Rights we should be using (never mind defending) to abolish hierarchy, propaganda and wealth are the true achievements of our ancestors who loved us without every knowing our names…

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Comments

This is the greatest thing i have read, you are so amazing el