Cruel and unusual punishment? Unreasonable search and seizure? Being tried twice for the same crime? Those would be violations of your rights. We're told that we have a right to privacy, a right to have an education, and a right to worship as we choose.
We hear about individual rights, civil rights, human rights, and constitutional rights. Stop somebody from doing something he wants to do and as likely as not, he'll tell you, "I have a right to do that and you have no right to stop me. After all, it's a free country and I have my rights!"
All that's well and good, but know what you don't hear a lot about anymore?
Responsibilities are the flip side of rights. In fact, the only reason we have rights at all is because there are people who fulfill their responsibilities. Yet, if you ask people what their responsibilities as Americans are, you'll usually get vacant expressions and maybe a mumbled statement about jury duty or paying taxes.
With that in mind, here are a few basic responsibilities that you, I, and all of us have as Americans.
1) It's your responsibility to pay your own way. Nobody owes you a living and that includes other taxpayers. You have a responsibility to pay your own bills and not be a leech. That means, over the course of your lifetime, paying as much in taxes as you take out in services and direct payments from the government. If, by some horrible set of circumstances you feel compelled to go on the dole, you should at least be ashamed to take hand-outs from your fellow citizens.
2) It's your responsibility to take care of your children. If you have kids, you have a duty to take care of them. That means paying money to feed, clothe, and house them. It means being a part of their life and doing your best to raise them, teach them right from wrong, and help them have a better life than you've had. This seems to be so simple that it's practically instinctive to most people, but apparently, a lot of people don't get it.
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