This is an article I wrote that was published in the StarTribune


All Our Rights Just May Be Wrong


by Scott Burton


Dylan, our second child, is fanatical about Nintendo video games to the point that, to
him, it is all that exists. As far as he is concerned it is his God given right, and when he
doesn't get to play, he is personally affronted as if we have taken something from him.
We only allow him to play once a month. Once a month!! Yet, for him, all roads
lead to Nintendo.

He doesn't even need the actual game anymore. He plays all on his own with a series of
runs, jumps, stops and starts, beeps, crashes, eye gestures and an eternal
theme song that he is humming 24 hours a day. He plays on car rides. You can see his
eyes moving up and down as he is picturing himself jumping from rooftop to
rooftop. It's sheer obsession. It's gotten to the point where he refers to his little
brother as, an extra guy. 

I love to see him play (without the game). He is all encompassed and it is a form
of complete concentration. It is his free form world in which rules are made up as
he goes along and obstacles are encouraged and dealt with with absolute aplomb.
My fears are only how much he is turning off and ignoring the genuine outside
forces in his real life, and the fact that, as long as he runs the game, he always
wins. We all know it's different when he faces the real world. Or do we?

We, as adults, look and are amazed by the personal Universe he's created. But we
spend little time thinking how close we are to doing much the same thing with our
own lives. It astounds me sometimes how many and widely varied things we take
for granted as our God given rights.

It's nice to have rights. It's nice to know we have certain guarantees  to guard us
against infringment upon our lifelong quests to have & everything. But sometimes
these guarantees, as they protect our personal wills, can detract from the little
thought of call of being human. Working so hard for personal rights sometimes
can't help but divert the focus from the outside world to ones personal goals. It is,
though, an enticing deception.

This world is full of people who tell you the things you absolutely must have, do,
be or see while you are alive. They tell you of your rights and all the things you
deserve and should have as a human being. But, you know what? They're liars.
They are not necessarily lying to you intentionally. Many are lying due to

misinformation, having been lied to themselves by people who have told them
what they must do in order to attain a complete life. Others are lying intentionally
for the purpose of their own gain so that they can get the things that they've been
lied to about.

We go to great lengths to complicate our lives. Consumer's rights, non-smoker's
rights, animal rights, criminal offender's rights, professional ball player's rights,
gun carrier's rights, left-handed, non-smoking, militant post-feminist's rights.

We could save ourselves a lot of the jargon and unclog numerous word processors
by turning the perspective around. Instead of figuring out what the world must do
to accommodate us and our circle of friends, what must we do to respect all others?

I am a cancer survivor. I went through seven rounds of chemo therapy and had part of a
new bone implanted in my leg. Many people have felt so bad for me. They
sometimes are annoyed that I'm not angry at how life has been so unfair.  Occasionally
they see that I am fortunate to have gone through it all. I am fortunate to have had
a true and genuine taste of what life is. It is not the diluted, sacharine, new fall
season, year-end clearance, Pepsi generation taste of life. This is true life, the one
I can't bargain out of.

I have not met my goals in life. I am not the best human I can be, the best father
or husband. But I and 8 million other survivors have, in the most pure way
possible, tasted life. And that wonderful taste is still wet on my lips. That taste will help
me become a better father, husband and human. One doesn't have a choice. I don't
live my life for my sake, I live for life's sake. To speak of my personal rights rings
hollow. To stand in awe of life seems just.

Ask a cancer survivor sometime. Ask any survivor for that matter. Ask them about this
living a day at a time. Ask them about embracing each moment for only what it is
and not what is to be gotten out of it. One's personal rights don't come up all that
often. It is taking that moment -- whatever it is -- and embracing it, rolling it
between your fingers and breathing its unique scent into your nostrils. It is not an
ignorance to the fact that you still have to be a member of society and you wander
around in a Carol Channing, pasted smile, catatonic state. The two work quite
well in tandem, the acceptance of what life brings forth and being a productive
human. It is just once this acceptance takes place you see more clearly that you
are not in such supreme control of your life like you've been told you should be
and, when it comes to the matters of dear importance, it is life that controls you.
Ones personal rights don't even enter into the picture.

The truth is (yes, even in today's ever changing, demanding  world) life is simple. We
are called to do two things in this existence -- experience joy and share joy.
Everything else is gravy. And, even after we add all our political addendums to the life
we don't even control, we are left with only one right, and that is the right to exist.

Even without Nintendo.