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THE PROBLEM OF RIGHTS CONTINUED.
EN are endowed by nature with sundry
powers, faculties, capacities, physical and mental. These, however, are not at all uniform, but are diverse in kind and degree in different races of men and in different individuals of the same race. Nature seems to work through diversity rather than through uniformity, indeed through inequality rather than through equality. Not all men are born poets, nor are all poets equally good poets. Not all men are by nature adapted for intellectual pursuits, and those who are so adapted are not in that respect equally favored by nature. Even in the field of the simplest manual labor there is great diversity of natural capacity. It seems to be
nature's theory that mankind, the human race as a whole, will be better served by diversities, by differences in kinds and degrees of powers, than by uniformity and equality.
Further, normal men are also by nature endowed, if not with rights, yet with sundry instincts, desires, passions; also with sundry feelings, emotions, sentiments; and also with some degree of reason and power of choice. Some of these may not be apparent in infancy, but they appear in a greater or less degree of intensity as the individual develops.
Among these instincts or desires is the desire to live, the desire to serve each his own welfare and that of his offspring, and the desire to decide for himself what will best serve that welfare. As a corollary, he also has by birth the desire for freedom to exercise any and all of his talents and powers in such manner, to such extent, and in pursuit of such objects as he prefers, or to be idle if he prefers idleness. Further, he has the instinct of acquisitiveness, the desire to appro
priate to himself and retain control of such material objects as he thinks may serve his welfare and that of his offspring, and especially does he have a natural instinct and desire to possess and control exclusively for himself whatever, much or little, he has wrenched from nature or otherwise obtained by the exercise of his various powers. This instinct is also observable in some animals. A dog will hide a bone for his own exclusive future use. Man also instinctively claims for his own the natural increase of what he has acquired, the young of his beasts, the fruits of his orchard.
This desire for control includes the desire to store up, to use, to consume, to transfer, and even to destroy at will. This desire is seen in young children, who will try to clutch and hold whatever attracts them, and who will hoard or break toys or throw them away as their whims may be. As they get older the desire to control grows stronger, for they destroy less and preserve more in order to have greater measure of
control; but still they desire freedom to consume or destroy at their own will. So strong is this desire of control that men wish to direct what shall be done with their property after their death.
If one is balked or hindered in the gratification of any of these desires, there is excited in him a feeling of resentment against the cause, even if it be only some force of nature. There is a note of anger in the cries of a child over interference with his play, the deprivation of any toy or other thing he may have or desire. That the wind or the rain was the cause does not sooth him. In the mature man also, anger adds some force to the kick he gives even inanimate objects unexpectedly impeding him. Who of us has ever fallen over a chair in the dark without mentally, at least, consigning it to perdition? The old law of Deodand was an expression of this feeling of resentment against inanimate objects even. By that law, according to Blackstone, whatever chattel was the immediate cause of the death of
a reasonable creature was forfeited to the crown, as when a cart ran over a man. By the laws of Draco whatever caused a man's death by falling upon him was to be destroyed or cast out of the community. Thus a statue having fallen upon a man, it was thrown into the sea. The Mosaic law savagely declared: "If an ox gore a man that he die, the ox shall be stoned and his flesh shall not be eaten."
Is not this instinctive feeling of resentment at interference with one's person, liberty, or property, the rudiment of a later developed idea, or sentiment, of rights possessed? Resentment is felt only when one is deprived of something he feels he is entitled to. Granting that nature has not endowed man with rights, it has imbued him with a belief that he has rights, and also with a disposition to defend them.
Man is also born into a material world of natural forces, and hence to gratify his desire to live and serve his own welfare and that of his offspring, he must adapt himself to his environ