Mrs. Dykowski... on rights and manipulation

People who aren’t millennials often describe us using the word entitled. 

People outside the U.S. sometimes use that same word to describe Americans of all ages. 

We can’t deny that we are a people obsessed with rights. 

If you can convince an American that something is our right, we will risk our lives to keep, obtain or defend that right. 

Our forefathers risked their lives for the three rights they called inalienable — life, liberty and property, which they rebranded as “the pursuit of happiness,” being the original U.S. politicians. 

All of our other government-sanctioned rights were thought to fall under these umbrellas. 

Happiness could be a pretty huge umbrella. 

So it’s no wonder that anyone seeking to influence others feels justified in claiming all kinds of things — whatever makes them happy — as a right to which they are entitled. 

I recently saw a photo of a DACA protestor in College Station holding a sign that said, “Everyone has a right to be an Aggie.” 

“Well bless her heart, who would want to be an Aggie?” was my first thought. 

Then I was slapped in the face with how absurd that notion is. 

I’m not in favor of deporting the dreamers. I’m not pro-wall. 

But no one is automatically entitled to a spot at Texas A&M University or any other university. 

The reality is that college is an earned privilege and a service that’s paid for. 

Widespread higher education is good. 

I’m happy that dreamers are attending our universities, even if that’s A&M. 

It doesn’t make it a right. 

That’s really where the line gets blurry in today’s rhetoric — what is just good for society and what is actually a right?

I think it would be great if giving birth in a clean, safe hospital didn’t mean thousands of dollars in medical bills. 

But I don’t think that me deciding I want to be a mother and I also want my baby and I to be cared for by doctors and nurses means that those doctors and nurses shouldn’t get paid. 

I would love to put that money into her college fund, but that’s not my right. 

I was blessed with opportunities to find ways to pay for college as I went so I didn’t graduate with debt. That was a blessing — not a right. 

And when we start calling blessings rights or say we have a right to shirk our responsibilities or inconveniences, we can start to run over the rights of those around us.

There’s space for me to live in this nation and work at bettering myself. That doesn’t impose on you.

There’s not room for every human on this earth to attend A&M should they all go crazy and decide to try that. 

We would be stepping on each other, literally and figuratively. 

If I don’t pay my doctor and her staff for their services, her right to pursue her work is stepped on. 

If I don’t pay for my education, someone else will have to. 

I’m not ranting against social welfare or government assistance. I don’t mind paying my taxes so other people can be blessed with opportunities.

I’m urging us to think about the rhetoric of rights and evaluate if we’re being manipulated by that word. 

Something can be good, beneficial and right without being a right. 

Likewise, calling something a right doesn’t make it good or beneficial. 

So instead of being entitled to everything we think will make us happy, let’s be grateful for our blessings and critical listeners to anyone who tries to convince us that our blessings are our rights. 

Sarah Dykowski is the wife of Publisher Scott Dykowski. She can be reached at

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