I read with great interest the letter from the gentleman in Towanda concerning "God-given" rights. I certainly respect his views, but as an atheist I would like to offer a slightly different viewpoint on rights.
As we all make our way along this journey we call life our paths intersect along lines that cross both mind and heart. One thing we all begin to understand about life from an early age is that it is anything but simple and at times it can get complicated, but underneath all the exterior qualities of our existence lies the secret part of our mind where we truly reside. In that place, we are all equal. There is no race, no gender, no sexual identity; just the innate desires and passions that drive us to seek happiness in this life and others we can enjoy it with.
This secret place within us all is what defines our humanity; it is the core of every person born on this earth. Unfortunately, outside of this place in all of us is the reality of a diverse world where outward appearances and cultural differences divide the interest of our hearts from the common desire within every mind to fulfill the basic needs of our human condition. It is this place where the ideas were born for the most basic of our human rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. These rights that we cherish are nothing more than the most simplistic and beautiful part of the common thread of our humanity.
From the context of this perspective we do not see the need to deny others their path to achieve the fulfillment of these basic desires. The desire to make everyone like us fades away in the realization that our happiness is unique to our own lives. It becomes very easy to look upon the differences of our outward expressions as nothing more than the secret desires of our own mind manifest in another.
This is to me is the singular and most vital foundational principle of a successful and sustainable free society.