Frank Maguire
Rights, responsibilities, and heroism
By Frank Maguire
October 6, 2010

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

If we are asked "does one have the right to defend one's self in an altercation?" virtually everyone would answer, "Certainly!" It is tougher to answer "does one have responsibility to defend one's self?"

An individual right can be either asserted or not. If we think in terms of individual rights, then one could not say that I was not practicing my individual right were I to choose to not defend myself. If I chose non-defense, would that not have been my right to do so?

The much more important question is "does one have a responsibility to defend others who are in need of defense?" Now, we have a much greater dilemma than a mere assertion of individual rights.

It is even more complex, however, for the defense of one's own rights is associated with the defense of others. For when we choose (or refrain from choosing, because of fear or personal discomfort) to not defend our self, we give offenders the impression that they can abuse others. Since we were not willing to come to our own defense, they reason, we will be unwilling to come to the defense of anyone else. Now we have a very serious cultural problem that can bring about very unpleasant results.

Because of this ripple effect, we really do have a responsibility to defend our self against those who would impose their will upon us in an unwarranted way. We can not allow our self to be bullied, because bullies gain strength when they are successful. And, remember, the nature of the bully is to assume power that is not warranted, and has not been granted to him or her legitimately. Illegitimate bullies (yes, a coy double entendre) should be resisted with whatever force is necessary and legal.

© Frank Maguire


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Frank Maguire

Frank Maguire was born in Dorchester, MA, 1938, attended schools in Massachusetts, California, and Arizona, where he completed degrees in music and English writing/Journalism. Frank has been married to Helen Isabel Maguire née Estevez of Culver City, California, since 1957. They have six children, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren.


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