Human Rights – You’re Joking, Right?

“They went about it the wrong way.” Servaas is in his black suit again, the heavy frown changing his eyes to slits. “There’s no such thing as Human Rights. It’s nothing to celebrate, anyway.”

For once, Gertruida looks up in surprise.

“Really Servaas? Where does this come from?”

“Here.” He thumps his chest. “It comes from in here. Human rights are the ultimate oxymoron. It says you have certain rights, and others must respect that. It’s wrong.”

“Come on, Servaas, of course we have rights. Education, protection, medical care…” Vetfaan’s list peters out when Servaas interrupts him.

“Exactly. That’s my point. Now you go tour the country, Vetfaan, and see what the government did with those rights. Schooling is in shambles. The hospitals are understaffed, under equipped, and badly run – in fact, most governmental hospitals do not have the facilities to function properly. As for protection….we have had a slew of senior police officers and commissioners who embarrassed the country.” Servaas sits back, eyeing the ceiling. “And then you get to BEE – do you think white people have the same rights as blacks? Pull the other one, my friend.”

“So, what do you suggest, Servaas. You must have something in mind?”

“We must stop this harping on about rights, and rather look at Human Requirements. What is expected of you rather than what you can expect of society. The requirement to be responsible, versus the demand to have rights. It’s a complete shift in understanding John Doe’s position in society.”

“Ah…I get it!” Gertruida’s face lights up. “You’re saying you can only have rights – or earn the right to have rights – by respecting your fellow man?”

“Exactly. Look what’ll happen: with enough respect going around, you’ll have no more raping, no murders, no crime, no corruption. Those things exist because some people imagine it is their right to take what is not theirs. They embrace their rights and deny others theirs. Why? They have no respect, and therefore no responsibility.” He lets out one of his famous, long, drawn-out sighs. “It’s a social disease. It started long before Apartheid and won’t stop until we – everyone of us – start rethinking what it means to have human rights. And that won’t happen soon. The template for future generations is wrong.”

“But that sounds rather drastic. It implies that people who disrespected others, should be denied their rights – or at least, the human rights as we understand them now.”

“Exactly. That is the punishment needed. Now, if you get caught – and only 6% of criminals get convicted – you have the right to a fair trial. That, I agree with. A fair trial means no dockets going missing, no technical points to throw cases out, no medical parole for healthy friends of the government, no fancy dodging of the law. Once you have been found guilty, you forfeit your rights. It’s harsh, but that is something criminals will respect. They thrive because they can depend on their rights to protect them.”

“Servaas, that is rather radical, you must admit. No responsible government will ever pass such laws. They’ll be rejected by every free country in the world, because it will pave the way for dictatorship.”

“Ha! You see? That’s where the picture gets warped.” Servaas smiles for the first time. “A society whose prime aim is kindness and respect to others, will elect a kind leader – somebody fighting for their rights. It’s as easy as that. In the meantime, we have the right to be raped, murdered, lied to and be served by corrupt officials.” ”

“Well,” Boggel opens a new round, “it won’t happen in our lifetimes. I think I must declare my right to have a beer. It’s a holiday, after all.”

“And that,” Servaas is serious again, “may be the only right left in the country…”

12 thoughts on “Human Rights – You’re Joking, Right?

  1. Reinette

    My dear husband always says that we have forgotten that we have duties, and nowadays people only want rights! So yes dear Rolbos people, the responsibilities are being left behind and only the rights are being claimed!

  2. Marjolijn Joosten

    My parents already said people spoke about rights. My dad said he was raised wirh : duties and rights. Mind the duties came first. Now there is only rights. I believe we must go back to duties and rights, because this will help people to live responsible lives.

  3. scrapydo

    Remember also if a kind person is voted as the leader this same “kind” person turns around under pressure to force rights onto others. ( Here they call appartheid interdependence – that’s how the Maori politicians call it. They also say it is their right to use the land and water without any cost! New Zealanders/ born Kiwis can’t make use of it because it is Maori cultural right)

  4. Felicity-Ann McInnes

    VetFaan hope you made me enough ‘brollies’ NOW that is my RIGHT I think..(or IS IT Servaas ???)

    But so many wise words herein – sigh

    I so remember doing ‘chores’ around the house and in the garden and on the farm amongst the animals.

    Children today??? Would demand as their RIGHT payment for the PRIVILEGE of doing homely DUTIES that bind one’s family tighter together.

    Same as all these Left, Rights and Centres now going on all over the world…

    Yes I agree their are no rights left in around anywhere – because all should be looked at privileges!

    WHY?? Because Human Respect and Loving each other for the diversity of whom we are is one of the most beautiful privileges of Life.

    (Now I just expressed my right to express myself but consider it a privilege to be able to do so!)


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