We all have a right to those things which are required by Human Dignity. Rights arise from what we need to live as God intended us to. These are innately linked with our responsibility to ensure the rights of others – that we do not take more than is needed to fulfill our rights at the expense of another’s.
A well-ordered human society requires that people recognize and observe their mutual rights and duties. It also demands that each contribute generously to the establishment of a civic order in which rights and duties are more sincerely and effectively acknowledged and fulfilled.
- Saint John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, 31
A link has often been noted between claims to a “right to excess”, and even to transgression and vice, within affluent societies, and the lack of food, drinkable water, basic instruction and elementary health care in areas of the underdeveloped world and on the outskirts of large metropolitan centers. The link consists in this: individual rights, when detached from a framework of duties which grants them their full meaning, can run wild, leading to an escalation of demands which is effectively unlimited and indiscriminate. An overemphasis on rights leads to a disregard for duties.
- Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 43
Example in action:
Each year, Development and Peace runs an education campaign that reminds of our roles and responsibilities as global citizens.
The Fall Action Campaign is designed to help Canadians understand the root causes of poverty and our connection to global issues so that we can take action here at home to address the causes of injustice. For example, in one campaign Development and Peace members educated Canadians on the environmental and human rights injustices caused by Canadian mining operations abroad and advocated for the installation of an independent ombudsman to receive and act on complaints from communities affected by Canadian mining companies. These mining operations benefit us directly, for instance by the metals used in our electronics, or indirectly through investments. We must recognize our complicity in the perpetuation of poverty and act to ensure that all benefit equally of the earth’s resources. Half a million Canadians responded by supporting Development and Peace’s call for justice.