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JEFF BROOMES: Guiding principles over personal rights


JEFF BROOMES: Guiding principles over personal rights

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MOST RELATIVELY well educated and exposed individuals have had the benefit of life in a number of different societies and have most likely experienced the claim for freedom especially in relation to choice and expression. These they would see as being promoted as a right.

Unfortunately, I have seen too many misrepresentations and extremist thinking in relation to these rights. We are all members of a wider community or relationship, the rights and freedoms of which must trump some of our individual rights and freedoms. This  is true of general life, school life businesses and associations as well as family and friendship.

As children, our rights must be fashioned in accordance to the established rules and regulations of the family unit. These may pertain to sleep times, meal times, attendance at church and other family commitments. This extends into school where bell times, dress, movement to different classes and involvement in prescribed activities must be respected above our personal desires to do one thing or the other.

Recently, the rights and freedoms of students to have and to use cellphones and other electronic devices at school have become a major issue. There is an established rule that was passed from the Ministry of Education to all principals more than five years ago. It simply says that cellphones are not allowed at school and, if confiscated, can be kept for the entire term.  Most principals determine time frames based on responses from student or parent.

Unfortunately, there have been many verbal mixed messages coming from different sources at all levels. I stand firm in my belief that the written rule supersedes all the loud noises and must be respected over what we see as any other right. The school’s regulations must come first!

I have also listened with much amazement as experts from all corners have come out in defence of one individual who saw it as his right and freedom to criticise and to actually allow the identification of persons who had different views from him in the process of team selection. My view is simple. Once you accept that position, you automatically commit yourself to a promise of confidentiality.

In any organisation where decision making, especially such that impacts the careers and job opportunities of others, is not seen as confidential, chaos is inevitable. Responsibility and respect for differences must be seen as important traits that are coupled with maturity to promote one as a decision maker. 

 Unfortunately, we have seen many separations and divorces in good relationships because there is the quest for individual rights and freedoms to be paramount over the guiding principles of care, respect, trust, support and compromise.

The party that fights to maintain and uphold his or her rights is manifesting insecurity and lack of trust. Those are critical flaws and suggest that they should pull away from that relationship.

The party that must withstand the breaches of the collective principles because the other partner sees the strong need to fight for rights must understand the power play for what it is. It is nothing else but disrespect and a lack of genuine care. That partner should run and run far, because quarrels, arguments and disagreements will forever define such relationships. In every aspect of life, guiding principles are more important that individual rights. It is better to be led by what is right than to insist on personal rights, if the collective is of any value!

Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also served as vice-president of the BCA and director of the WICB.

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