Rights and Responsibilities

Rights and Responsibilities – an interesting term I came across somewhere once.  No, that’s not strictly true.  Once I really noticed it, I started seeing it everywhere.  Making me ponder over it time and again.  It pops up in my head every so often, and keeps playing there like a refrain.  Well, that’s just the right half of my brain.  My left half, however, feels the need to analyze it, taking it apart word by word.  Once a language teacher … 

Right.  The dictionary says that it can be a noun, verb, adjective, adverb or part of an idiom. And each part of speech has at least four to five definitions / variations in meaning listed under it – phew!  For the time being, though, I’m interested only in the noun, that too, only a couple of definitions.

a.      a just claim or title, whether legal, prescriptive, or moral 

b.      a moral, ethical, or legal principle considered as an underlying cause of truth, justice, morality, or ethics.

Hmm..deep!  Now let me look at the rest.

And.  It says here that it is a conjunction (used to connect grammatically coordinate words, phrases, or clauses) along or together with; as well as; in addition to; besides; also; moreover pens and pencils.

added to; plus

Responsibility.  A six-syllable noun that, regardless of what any dictionary says, carries the burden of the world.  Here are the two definitions I found interesting in the great D.

a.      the state or fact of being responsible

b.      a particular burden of obligation upon one who is responsible

Which leads me to – (what else?) Responsible .  Listed here as an adjective – a word that modifies a noun or pronoun…

a.      answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power, control, or management (often followed by to  or for )

b.      having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable; capable of rational thought or action

So I guess that is that.  Rights and responsibilities…

I look back on the forty odd years of my existence in a new light, and one fact stares back at me.  Sometime during the endless and rather lonely struggle to fulfill the latter, I have lost track of the former.  Forgot to claim my rights in the right places… Yeah, I know.  It is a bit too late in the day to be realizing this.  But as they say, better late than never.  Not that it is going to bring about any significant change in my existence now, no way.  Four decades of conditioning does not get undone in a day – or even a life-time.

What saddens me is something else.  When my turn came, I too fell back to conditioning. And it goes on even now.  I frequently remind my kids of their responsibilities, but forget to read out their rights.  I forget to remind them that they have the right to a happy childhood, a carefree youth, good food, laughter, tears, time, attention, hugs, love, forgiveness, some good old spoiling… I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that to them.

My sons, let me tell you this: you have your rights and you have your responsibilities.  Rights too, not just responsibilities…


8 thoughts on “Rights and Responsibilities

  1. Anomaly

    “Four decades of conditioning does not get undone in a day,” true. But please don’t think that what you’ve realized will not have a significant impact on your life now.
    I’d like to think that every thought, every realization, can spill over into our everyday existence and shape us if we allow it to. Give it enough time and enough love.


  2. aishwaria

    Teaching responsibilities without hindering their rights can also be given a thought,right? Let
    them learn to be responsible in their own ways.Conditioning at times may bring positive results
    as well.Thank you for giving me a chance to probe into myself !


  3. Aish, I think we are programmed to teach our children their responsibilities – just as it has always been drilled into us. Sometimes we forget that we had rights too… This was more a reminder to self. Glad that it made you probe, but I don’t think you, as a person, need to. You do give others their rights – that’s in your nature.


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