Individual rights come from individual responsibilities. Thomas Jefferson’s drafting of the Declaration of Independence boldly outlined the rights of man, stating “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….”
What Jefferson was simultaneously declaring was that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable responsibilities. The only way in which rights are formed is by the acceptance of men to uphold their own personal responsibilities. It is each man’s Personal Responsibility to act in a way which does not divide others from their Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness. Notice the extreme care taken by Jefferson in his word choice; “Pursuit of Happiness”. Not “Happiness”. There is no right to Happiness, just as their is no right to any outcome. But every man has the right to pursue happiness on their own chosen path. That path is formed by the active choice of others to take responsibility, tailoring their own actions so as to not separate others from their Life, Liberty or Pursuit of Happiness.
It is the duty of men to pass on this truth. To demonstrate to boys and young men the immeasurable power of responsibility. Responsibility generates meaning, it produces success, it provides for the needs of the world and it forms the rights of others. Responsibility is the burden worth carrying. It is the cross everyone must bear and be defined by in order to be a virtuous individual.