Both individual rights and common good must be protected.
Ideally, if a few people go suffering in a community, majority of members of such communities are more distressed than if many suffer in so far a way places (Fitzgerald, 21). Furthermore, individuals not only mind more about people of their own communities, but maintain that they are justified in doing so. To protect the common good, an individual has a higher level of obligation to his own community than all others. In Beloved, Morrison examines vividly the period of slavery and the suffering of black slaves (Morison, 24).
This paper examines how individual rights affect common good. Individual rights and common good are equally complementary
Relationship between Individual Rights and Common Good
In classical sense, people should be maintained as holders of collective rights. Both good of a person as an individual, and as a member of community are both goods of one and same person.
These goods can be differentiated but should not be separated. Thus, rights intended to secure each of these goods cannot be separated either. This happens even though they can be differentiated one from another. Both individual rights and common good must be recognized if the rights of the whole person are to be respected. This affirms that a common good cannot be separated from individual rights of a person who is part of that society (Purdy, 50). An individuals share in the common good is the highest proper good of that person.
Though not a sufficient condition for the promotion of the common good, individual rights are nonetheless a necessary condition (Fitzgerald, 25). Without individual rights, it is difficult to begin to promote the common good. Consequently, there will be no protection of individual’s share in the common good without the protection of individual rights. Thus, there must be a recognized relationship of individual rights and common good. This linkage should be anchored into law (Paine, 46). When Morison speaks of relationships that should exist of mother to daughter, this right must be understood as part of broader common good to provide children an upbringing according to the dictates of their consciences.
This occurs even when their consciences are in error as to what, in specific instance, constitutes what is good, bad or ugly. Morrison carefully builds the story with background of slavery as justified by community as common good (Morison, 47). She grounds her story on historical records.
Black women historically, preferred to kill their children sometimes rather than let them experience the brutalities of slavery. Whereas the slave owners justified women’s victimhood, comparisons given between wives and slaves is important to suggest sexist and racist oppression. Women tend to seek and discover solace in motherhood. For black slaves, however, it is a source of enhanced sadness (Purdy, 23).
Racial Victimization of Women
Individual rights require persons not to be discriminated against by race. Violation of the right to equal racial recognition consequently affects the common good in society.
Morison explores the most painful period enslavement blacks by whites in black history (Morison, 105). Slavery has in fact been a racial-based institution in the history of USA, Morrison writes the book Beloved as a dedication to this violence on the black race. Beloved is set before and immediately after emancipation (Morison, 106). Individual right to an education, in the broad sense, to children is a natural right (Purdy, 27).
This should be a priority right of State. This does not mean that rights of parents to their children are arbitrary. Their right to acquire an education is subordinate to natural and divine law.
The execution of this right should not entail suppression of this right. Morison espouses articulately denial of education to black slaves in America. Education was found not necessary, at worse, unlawful for black people (Morison, 104). The individual rights of blacks were completely violated; as they were considered beings that were not conscious (Morison, 193).
Gender Victimization of a Woman
Individual right to freedom, in the wider sense, to black women is an inalienable right (Paine, 25).
The state should not have sanctioned acts of slavery. For instance, individual rights of persons to be free from slavery produced the common good of their emancipation from slavery. Individual rights directly affect the common good. Slavery curtailed freedom of black women (Morison, 23). It was easy for black women to achieve womanhood standards due to societal restrictions imposed by State.
Womanhood is the common good that is inalienable to every free woman. Slave owners did not accord women freedom and triumph because they were black and were not male. The skin of black women categorized them within the bracket of an inferior race.
Their gender on the other hand, confined them to be regarded lowly in society. They are regarded as brainless even by majority of black men. Black males strive always to stump their authority over black women to feel reassured of their manhood.
In these circumstances, black woman survives motherhood as the most painful period in her slavery life (Purdy, 234). Person’s have individual rights to be accorded protection by divine law. Invincible ignorance is not allowed as an excuse of violation of the common good (Purdy, 23). Protection and safety of children is a common good which the state has the right and duty to impose.
In Beloved Denver is a victim of child abuse (Morison, 253). Her childhood in initial years is spent in prison along with her mother. Her individual rights are blatantly violated She is mocked by the society for the crime committed by her mother. She spends most of her childhood in fear of being killed by her mother. She is a scared psychologically (Morison, 255).
She wished to get a way from her mother who has been sentenced by law and society which has condemned her on sins committed by Sethe (Morison, 256). Morison depicts the influence of individual rights on the common good (Morison, 6). Children have individual right to care and stable family. All her children were sold in early infancy so she finds Sethe’s act too proud and egocentric (Morison, 45) For Baby Suggs, Sethe has underestimated her luck. She has her whole family with her and has the chance to see her offspring grow up whereas she has vague memories of her own children, sold in their great majority before their weaning time (Morison. 5). In fact, Sethe in her need to unify her family is caught by her slave owner.
She refuses to let him sully them as he has done to her, so she kills her third child, a baby girl and hurts the two elders. Her strong feelings are contrary to the slave ethics as it is stated by Paul (Morison, 45). But Sethe has made up her mind; she will not let the white men sully her children like they have already done with her (Morison. 251).
Indeed, white and male rudeness has led women to end as murderous like Sethe. Sethe for instance, instead of letting her children return to Sweet Home and then live later the atrocities of slavery, has chosen to kill them one by one before killing herself. She kills her baby girl before being stopped and injures her two sons (Morison, 203). Then, individual rights do not, on every circumstance serve as a means of pursuing the common good.
Individual rights are presupposed in pursuit of the common good. The common good is the good of society as a whole and each of it components, that is; of all individuals who make up that society (Purdy, 64). Therefore, individual rights enhance the common good to the extent that each person in that community is a holder of those rights. In addition, it they promote the common good to the extent that their exercise enhances social harmony and balance (Maachem, 300). The primacy of the common good over private goods means the importance of collective rights if and only if due protection is given to individual rights (Paine, 46).
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Beloved. New York: Signet, 1987. Paine, Thomas.
The Age of Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Purdy, T. A tolerable Anarchy.
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