What “right to life”?

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”

That all humans aspire to a long life, in liberty, to pursue their own happiness is true but obvious and rather trivial. Our individual aspirations are our hopes about an unknown, uncertain future. Achieving aspirations does not come easily. How close we come depends mainly on our own behaviour. Thus, they often guide, and sometimes dominate, our behaviour. With 7.5 billion individual aspirations it is hardly surprising that aspirations clash and come into conflict with those of others. And it is even less surprising that human behaviour, which is largely dominated by perceived self-interest, comes into conflict with, and even opposes, the behaviour of others.

However, to declaim that these aspirations are what all humans are entitled to, or that all humans are owed these things by all other humans and the universe at large is, at best, sentimental drivel. At worst, these declarations are religious dogma; imaginary and misleading.

entitlement: the state or condition of being entitled; a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract; belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

entitled: having a right to certain benefits or privileges

right: something that one may claim as due

The imaginary “right” to life is not actually about living but about an expectation, a hope, of not being killed, whether by accident or by design, by someone else. In reality, around 160,000 humans will die today in spite of their purported “right” to life. Around 2,000 will kill themselves. Of the total, around 1,000 -1,100 will be murdered today by another human. Which means, of course that the world will gain another 1,000 murderers today. Less than half of all homicides will lead to anyone being charged with murder, and less than half of those charges will lead to a conviction. Less than 2 murderers (or drug-lords or corrupt officials) are executed every day and we probably have more murderers alive today than ever before. Another 4,000 – 5,000 of the 160,000 will die due to accidents or misadventure. Less than 200 on average die per day due to natural disasters. The vast majority of deaths will be due to “natural causes”. Nature, natural causes, and natural disasters pay no deference to the purported “right” to life. The “right to life” does not flow from the laws of the universe. No murderer ever refrained from murder because of the victim’s “right” to life. The “right to life” is of no value to those 1,100 who will be murdered today. The entitlement has no value for anybody else either.

In spite of the supposed “right” to life (or more accurately the “right” to not be killed), some people are granted the “right” (the licence) to kill. Suicide is no longer considered a sin and is an assumed human “right”. Everybody has the “right” to kill another in self-defence (subject only to proportionality). In armed conflict (whether declared a war or not), military personnel may kill opposing military persons in pursuit of “legitimate” military targets. They may even kill civilians as “collateral damage” to “legitimate” military objectives as long as the “collateral damage” is not excessive. Civilians, of either side, may kill members of opposing armed forces in righteous rebellion (with consequences depending upon who is victorious). “Freedom fighters” are permitted to kill members of the “oppressors”. Executioners always kill justly. Police may kill when faced by threat from armed miscreants. Doctors may kill by incompetence or error with few consequences. In some places doctors and medical staff are granted the “right” to euthanise those elderly or infirm who wish to die. Drunken and incompetent drivers may kill others by “accident”. Faceless mobs may lynch and kill with impunity. Children and the insane (including the temporarily insane) may kill with limited consequences. The imaginary entitlement to not be killed ceases once someone is killed. Legal systems cannot enforce the entitlement and can only deal with punishments to be exacted on the perpetrator, if caught.

(“Human rights” dogma has it that only living humans can have “rights”. Living murderers have rights, their dead victims have none. On the theory that a fetus is as insignificant as a toe-nail, some 130,000 fetuses are aborted every day. There are almost as many abortions per day as there are deaths by all causes. Of course, a fetus, like any toe-nail, has no “rights”).

Do these empty declarations about the “right to life” have any value at all? Of the 160,000 who die every day, such declarations do not apply to the 2,000 daily suicides. Clearly the “right to die” trumps the “right to life”. They are applicable (as violations of the “right”) only to the 1,100 murders. The pious declarations neither deter murderers nor do they apply to those who have a licence to kill. Having an imaginary “right to not be killed” prevents no one from being killed. Whereas the fear of being caught, or the fear of a heavy punishment, such as a death sentence, may prevent some murderous behaviour, the “right” of another not to be killed has little influence, if any, on such behaviour. These pompous declarations of imaginary entitlements have no influence on, and are irrelevant to, human behaviour. The bottom line is that the imaginary “right to life” has no relevance to life.

“Human rights” are an imaginary notion. They do not flow from the natural laws of the universe and, in that sense, are unnatural. All religions are based on imaginary, artificial notions. Declarations of “rights” are also the empty dogma of a false religion. The concept of a “human right to life” is not anything which can, or does, influence human behaviour, and to pretend otherwise is misleading.

As humans we must make the most – as we see it – of living, but no human has any claim of a “right to life” on others. Or on the universe.


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