Billy sends out an email on something "profoundly simple and simply profound," i.e., on the essence and nature of man's natural rights.
This turns on the fact that our minds are our unique and exclusive mode and method of our survival. Look: we don't have wings, or dominating natural weapons like claws or fangs or poisons, or enormous speed and agility. We're not like other animals, equipped in such ways for survival. Because of what we are, we have to think our way through the world. We have to identify by a process of reason the values that sustain and further our lives. There are, however, two crucial aspects of this on which are founded the entire domain of politics -- which is nothing more or less than the study of how to treat each other in social contexts:
1) Reason is not autonomic. It doesn't work except by a deliberately self-initiated process.
2) It is not infallible. It can and does fail, sometimes.
Neither of these two things relieves us of the responsibility to think at all times to the best of our ability.
Here's the thing: some people are sometimes better at it than others. However, it is precisely because the implications and consequences of success or failure are uniquely personal to each individual that each individual must be left free to make up his or her own mind about to conduct his or her own life.
That moral sanction to exercise full authority (with commensurate responsibility) over one's own life in a social context including other human beings -- that thing is what's called a "right". Nobody who is forcibly constrained by someone else's judgement can be said to be able to conduct his own life. That violates the nature of the entity that we're talking about: the one that doesn't have wings, speed, claws, etc., but only a mind.
Please keep in mind that this is a bi-lateral concept running to and from all human beings to all others: "full authority over one's own life" does not imply a moral sanction to dispose of others' lives, because -- by their nature -- they have the very same requirement for survival and flourishing.
That's why we require rights. It is because of what we are. There is nothing more or less to it.
Nothing. It is the simple fact of our natures that we must choose whether or not to pursue the values necessary for our survival. That choice is entirely one given by our nature as humans, and implicit in that natural choice is the right to make the choice.
It is neither by creation, nor by design. As Billy says in a subsequent email, "Nobody seriously asks, 'Well, who made it so that two plus two equals four...?'"
Now, the reason this is so important ought to be clear enough. Everybody -- certainly most, anyway -- believes that rights are important. The problem is: virtually nobody knows what the hell they are talking about: from the bum on the street, all the way up -- blowing right past the effete intellectuals -- to the occupant of The White House and its equivalents worldwide.
They all know rights are necessary as a matter of practicality -- so much so that they codify "rights" in law all over. In the first place, natural rights need no more affirmation in law than does two plus two require a statute proclaiming that it's four. It's just mindless nonsense, and it leads to the sort of disaster where the natural rights that are consequence of the fact of our existence are trampled in the obscene pursuit of "entitlements," euphemized as "rights." The result is that the actual rights of some are sacrificed for the unjust benefit of others -- and it's all called an exercise in justice, a recognition and enforcement of rights. Such insolent dishonesty goes to the heart of what this civilization and culture are becoming.
And very few even see through it all, anymore.
Those who pay attention; like, to this blog, for instance, ought to see this theme throughout. Very nearly everything of a serious nature that's posted here reflects an uncompromising, fully integrated and consistent view of natural rights.