I recently discovered the wonderful TV series, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, produced a couple years ago by HBO, and adapted from the books by Alexander McCall Smith. (It's a terrific television series, and I highly recommend it, by the way -- full of humor, beauty, hope and wonderful characters.) In the first episode, one of the characters is a teacher whose son has been kidnapped. At one point in the story we see the teacher in front of a chart on the blackboard, going over the rights and responsibilities that his students have. I don't remember the details of what was on the board, but it was something like:
I have the right to parents who love me. I have the responsibility to treat others well.
I have the right to be safe from harm and abuse. I have the responsibility to tolerate other people.
And so on.
While I loved the entire episode, this scene was one of my favorite parts, because the children were not only learning about the rights that they have (a topic which is often neglected in schools); they were also learning that they need to take responsibility in the world -- that an entitlement to certain rights is irrevocably tied to conscientious action on their part.
This scene reinforced for me how important it is to make choices in my own life that not only assert my own rights, but that respect and uphold the rights of others, whether person, plant or pigeon.
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