rights responsibilities 24845411

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					Opinion Essay Response                                               Name _________________________
Score _____ / 27                                                     Class Per ___ Due Date Monday, 9/10/12




Directions: For each of the 7 Responsibilities identified by the author, indicate whether you agree or disagree
and explain why, then answer the two questions at the end. Each is worth 3 points for a total possible of 27
points.

7 Responsibilities You Have As An American
(by John Hawkins, Posted at Townhall.com on June 7, 2011.)
You hear a lot about “rights” in America. You have a right to an attorney. You have a right to remain silent. You
have a right to free speech, a right to “keep and bear arms,” a right to “due process,” and a right to have “equal
protection under the law.”
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.
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.

 Agree or Disagree? Explain.




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.

 Agree or Disagree? Explain.




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3) It’s your responsibility to look out for future generations of Americans. Whether you think of
America as “the land of opportunity, “a shining city on a hill,” “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” or
the “last, best hope of mankind,” we all have a duty to preserve what’s great about this nation so that future
generations of Americans can experience it just as we have. How careless, how irresponsible, how unforgivable it
would be if our children and our children’s children have to grow up in an America that is no longer
extraordinary.

 Agree or Disagree? Explain.




4) You have a responsibility to be an informed voter. In recent years there has been a big push to get all
Americans to vote. That’s sort of like giving everyone a gun and encouraging them to immediately squeeze off a
few rounds. If they don’t know anything about what they’re doing, they’re as likely to hurt themselves or
someone else as they are to do good. The same goes for voting. Not everyone has to be a political junky, but it
would be nice if people took the time to become well-informed about the ins-and-outs of the basic political
issues we have to deal with in this country instead of voting on who has the best attack ads. Being an informed
voter is a responsibility. Being an uninformed voter is flipping a coin – heads, America wins and tails, it loses.

 Agree or Disagree? Explain.




5) You have a responsibility to support and defend the Constitution. The Constitution is the “set of
rules” that we go by as a people and most of the “rights” are guaranteed by the Constitution. Yet, the
Constitution is under daily attack in this country by activists and politicians who feel the ends justify the means
along with judges who claim to believe in a “living Constitution,” which is functionally no different than not
having a Constitution at all. You may not win every fight to adhere to the Constitution, but it’s a battle worth
fighting because no document does more to safeguard the rights of all Americans.

 Agree or Disagree? Explain.




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6) You have a responsibility to put America first. The UN, other nations, and “the world” don’t really
care very much whether you live or die. Not that Americans in Boston are going to shed tears if an American in
LA passes on either, but we at least have a certain small, but meaningful level of kinship with each other by
virtue of being Americans.
9/11 was a good example of that. Most other nations around the world said a few kind words for us and seemed
to have a few days to a few weeks’ worth of goodwill towards us over it. But nearly 10 years later, it was other
Americans who got revenge for the fallen by putting a bullet in Bin Laden’s forehead. You should always look out
for your own country because it’s the biggest group of people on the planet who might actually care whether you
live or die.

     Agree or Disagree? Explain.




7) You have a responsibility to be a good person. As Samuel Adams noted way back in 1779,
A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the
whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they
lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.
Honesty, honor, godliness, industry, respect for the law, morality, and truthfulness are the wheels on which our
entire republic rides. If the American people are no…good, then no matter how well the Constitution is written,
how well we’re governed, or how much good fortune comes our way, we are doomed as a nation.

     Agree or Disagree? Explain.




Questions:

1.     Summarize (in fewer than 50 words) the main idea of the editorial.




2. Explain the difference between “rights” and “responsibilities.”




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