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What’s in Your Bill of Responsibilities?

Talking about your rights doesn’t resonate. Shift the paradigm.

For public relations purposes, talking about your rights is obsolete. It’s a right-wing authoritarian faux talking point. It’s simply tedious – and often a non sequitur – to say that you’re doing something because it’s your right. Nor does it resonate with anyone who doesn’t already agree with you. Let’s shift the paradigm. Let’s spark some thought by talking about our actions in terms of responsibilities, instead of rights.

The Mercenary Approach

Rights are about me, what I can do and what you can’t. That doesn’t facilitate connecting with other people. The perception is that it’s a justification for greed or just gratuitous insolence. Whether that’s the reality or not, such a stance is counterproductive in the midst of this statist crisis. What’s needed now is an attitude of “What can we do together for mutual benefit?” A mercenary approach got us into this mess. Empathy and solidarity will get us out.

My Bill of Responsibilities

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” – George Bernard Shaw

Here’s my own personal Bill of Responsibilities (as opposed to a collective Bill of Rights). What’s in your Bill of Responsibilities?

    It’s my responsibility to …

  1. Ensure that I do no harm to my fellow man.
  2. Protect myself and my family from those who may wish to harm us.
  3. Honor my word at all times, and make reparations for any failures to do so.
  4. Speak out against injustice and support anyone who does the same, so that justice might be served.
  5. Live in alignment with my principles, and never compromise them.
  6. Resist aggression until or unless I am left with no other choice.
  7. Cooperate with my fellow man in mutual support and aid where there is need and I have the ability to help.
  8. Protect and exercise my liberties even when their need is not keenly felt, so that they’ll still be available to me when it’s a matter of life and death.
  9. Not cooperate with evil, so as to not inadvertently strengthen it and thus indirectly harm my fellow man.
  10. Cooperate in the peaceful resolution of all disputes that involve me.

How to Use your Bill of Responsibilities

Let’s say you’re open carrying your pistol and someone asks you why you’re doing that. You could give any number of very good reasons but perhaps one of the most paradigm-changing is to say: “I open carry because I have a responsibility to protect myself and my family from those who may wish to harm us.” That’s easier to comprehend than abstract talk of rights or of tyranny that most are numb to.

Why are you protesting? Handing out anti-war, anti-tax or jury rights pamphlets? You have a responsibility to speak out against injustice. Doesn’t everyone intuitively get – and respect – that?

Why aren’t you paying taxes? You have a responsibility to not cooperate with evil, so as to not inadvertently strengthen it and thus indirectly harm your fellow man. What evil? War. Even if your audience thinks the many current wars are justified, they remember respected precedents for your beliefs.

A Personal Constitution

Add your Bill of Responsibilities to your Statement of Principles and you have the makings of your own personal constitution. Now that’s some parchment worth defending! Here’s my Statement of Principles:

I solemnly promise to never commit aggression against a fellow human being, nor to voluntarily and knowingly support the commission of aggression against a fellow human being. I will honor to the letter any contracts that I enter into. Should I fail to honor this promise, I will make all appropriate efforts to reach a settlement with the aggrieved party. If we are unable to reach an agreement, I will voluntarily submit to arbitration by a judge and jury, if need be, that is mutually agreeable to both myself and the complaining party.

Progress-Oriented

Our public relations efforts have to be oriented towards progress in a way that breaks existing patterns and gets people thinking again. We can’t go back to the 1700’s. The future we want will be very different. Start living in it today! Please post a link to your personal Bill of Responsibilities in the comments section below.

Photo credit: wwworks. Photo license.

By George Donnelly

I'm building a tribe of radical libertarians to voluntarize the world by 2064. Join me.

11 replies on “What’s in Your Bill of Responsibilities?”

This is good. What usually happens, though, is that responsibility gets conflated with obligation. Enforcing obligation is seen as a rightful function of the state, or to put it another way, A’s obligation to B is seen as something akin to a property right of B. There’s things I like about this approach, but I think the problem goes deeper and this will only have limited effect.

I’m not offering this concept as a cure-all. I just think that for PR purposes it’s more useful for liberty lovers to talk about their responsibilities than their rights (a concept I’m iffy on anyway).

This is something I can sink my teeth into. Something easy enough to change that I can and will do it, and it might actually work.

It will make it much easier to stand up straight and tall for what I know is right even in a sea of people who disagree.

Many people I know want government power for the same reasons we want freedom – a good life for them and the people around them. They think freedom lovers don’t care about anyone but themselves, so they have little respect for our arguments, if they even listen in the first place. This could turn all that on its head.

Thank you, George.

– Trevor.

This is good stuff. I’m new to the active discussion on the internet, but identify as a Libertarian none the less. I see why, from a PR standpoint, “responsibilities” is better than “rights”. From a PR standpoint, though, what can be done about libertarians being identified with the “Tea Party” and the GOP today?

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