Most disagreements center around conflicting rights. My right to play the drums versus your right for peace and quiet. The right to smoke versus the right for a smoke-free environment. The right to view pornography versus the right to protect our children. The right to take your dog for a walk versus the right to have a clean poop-free trail. The right to have a freeway built versus the right to keep a house that is in the planned path. The right of a woman to chose abortion versus the right to protect the fetus. The right to protect a news source versus the right to track down a criminal.
In Hawaii, beach areas are all public property and home owners’ property lines are delineated by where the vegetation grows. Consequently, some home owners have been growing vegetation over the sand to expand their property line and keep the public away. The home owners want their privacy, and the beach-goers want access.
These conflicts get down to my right versus your right or the right I believe I should have versus the right you believe you should have.
So much of tension in society is the result of conflicting rights. The rights of the Israelis versus the rights of the Palestinians to occupy certain territory; the right to protect religious expression versus the right to enforce religious beliefs.
These are the problems that are difficult to settle. Over years people become ensconced in their positions and beliefs. Then it becomes a personal conflict, a vendetta, my way of life versus yours.
With no easy solution the conflict escalates.
Much centers around possessions. People want to own land which leads to my property rights versus yours. But ultimately we are custodians not owners of land. It was already here.
It’s only if we can take a wider view that issues of conflicting rights can be solved. Moving beyond my right versus your right to our rights, requires finding a solutions that embraces the broader interest of both parties. It’s a shame that so often there has to be an external enemy to get people to come together. Maybe some day we can learn that the real external enemy is our inability to see ourselves as one.