Public Health and Natural Rights: A Tale of Two Cities

Humans' natural capacities for reasoning and speech mean that politics should be based on persuasion, not censorship, and that government should be based on consent, not coercion.

One cannot inject a healthy child from the day of birth and believe in the natural rights of the individual.

If the basic functioning of the nature we as humans are born with is so flawed that we need repeated injections in the first year of our lives, starting from the day we emerge from the womb, then our nature cannot be much of a guide, either to our own development as individuals or to our social life together.

Human nature has its flaws, for sure, of the covetous kind above all. These range from lust and avarice to pride and revenge, what Edmund Burke called our “disorderly appetites.” And they inform great literature and commentary from Shakespeare to Publius.

But our appetites do not erode the foundations of our nature – the biological and intellectual capacities with which we are endowed. These are not inherently and dangerously flawed. They are, however, inextricably entwined. They grow and mature together. As they do, our endowments govern our development as individuals and our formation as social beings – when properly observed and honored.  

Our equal moral status as humans derives from our shared biological and intellectual endowments. Humans are by nature a being which reasons. We are born with the capacity for reasoning. It is built into our biology. We are also by nature a being which speaks, born with the capacity for language. This, too, is built into our biology, resulting in the sharing of our reasoning with each other.

These natural capacities for reasoning and speech mean that politics should be based on persuasion, not censorship, and that government should be based on consent, not coercion. That’s why the Declaration of Independence follows its assertion of the natural rights of the individual with its description of governments as deriving “their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The principles of the Declaration require a proper observance of our shared nature as humans and deference to this nature’s governance in our personal and social affairs.

Viewing our nature as soliciting immediate doctoring at birth – as if inherently malformed – and repeated dosing and boosting thereafter reflects a different sensibility, one of felt mastery over nature, not humility before it.

This inadequate nature, impaired and incomplete at birth, falters as mentor of our individual and social lives. It is an object of corrective intervention, not a guide inspiring faithful adherence. It is a patient, a case, a potential host or illness in waiting, ill-equipped in itself and, in time, a danger to others as pathogenic carrier and transmitter. This nature is not a wellspring of moral meaning. It is not a source of equal moral status – the bearer of our capacities from which arise our natural rights.

It’s thus no surprise that public health gave us the most pervasive violation of individual rights in our lifetimes.

Public health as presently constituted degrades the human person. New technologies across generations have detected scores of hitherto unknown microbes, now proffered as the newly discovered agents of age-old ailments. In the process, each of us has become an unwilling host, a function in the mathematical sense, the output or “case” of a microbic system.

In this, public health reflects the theories of the systemic “isms” purportedly pervading our lives. These theories see each of us as a host of a social identity, the function of a social process, a carrier and transmitter of micro-social afflictions. Each is but a case or output of the system – that series of transmissible phobias, isms, and other cultural pathogens that comprise our social environment. Censorship and coercion are the prescribed interventions.

Public health similarly depersonalizes and degrades. Each in its care becomes a host, the function of a microbic process, a carrier and transmitter of micro-biological afflictions. Each is but a case or output of the system – that series of transmissible molecules, sequences, and other biological pathogens that comprise our natural environment. Censorship and coercion are the prescribed interventions.

It is thus no coincidence that the first experience many of us had with the public health of genetic therapy was a form of depersonalized coercion. Genetic therapy was supposed to be different. It was supposed to be highly personalized and expertly tailored, keenly attentive to the uniqueness of the individual. These were the promises of progress.

Yet the individual plays not the protagonist in the performance of public health. Thirty micrograms (Pfizer) or a hundred (Moderna) – it doesn’t matter. Thirty for a large man and a hundred for a petite woman – it doesn’t matter. Multiply for dosing – two, three, four or more – it doesn’t matter. Vascular or cardiac conditions – it doesn’t matter. Pregnancy, that by-gone measure of the reverence we once paid our own nature – it doesn’t matter.

Each of us is but a function, a case or output value, a host of social and biological pathogens. Each is thus an appropriate object of doctoring and dosing, censoring and coercing. The individual fades in the quest to defeat the affliction, be it biological or social. Equal moral status recedes behind the veil of masks, passports, and QR codes, behind the wizardry of positionality, praxis, and low-melanin preeminence.  

The belief system professing the dangerous deficiencies of human nature may not be consciously affirmed by all parents whose healthy children begin remediation at birth. But conscious affirmation is not required. 

Participation in the practices created by the belief system of public health is support of the system itself, wittingly or not.

We see such unwitting support in parents whose child was born a public health patient suddenly bewildered by the public health of “affirming” care. These parents had long participated in the practices stemming from belief in a dangerously flawed human nature – corrective intervention right from the womb. When that belief system then broadcasts its programs of “affirming” care, many parents whose children are caught in its web feel bewildered and defenseless. The belief system provides no natural right of parental primacy in directing the care of the child, because the system dismisses the very idea of natural rights. It has to. It is predicated upon that dismissal.

It’s thus no surprise that public health gave us the most pervasive violation of individual rights in our lifetimes.

The felt need to pretend otherwise is even receding. Public figures tell us quite clearly. When asked about the Bill of Rights during the era of covid public health, a prominent governor characterized that list of fundamental freedoms as “above my pay grade.”

“Above my pay grade” is politician-speak for the irrelevance of natural rights to the system of public health. It’s politician-speak for elevating belief in the dangerous flaws of human nature to the status of a ruling philosophy, dethroning our natural endowments as a cornerstone of personal and social governance. Thus multiple rounds of impersonalized genetic therapy were the ticket to see grandma again, and that’s only if she survived sedated ventilation, GS-5734, and the withholding of antibiotics.

In 1857, a then second-tier politician described the axiom of natural rights as “a standard maxim for free society.” This axiom, at the heart of the Declaration, he insisted, “should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for . . . and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence.”

Revered by all. We are in dire need of such reverence today. Far too many microphoned voices seem intent on revoking our equal moral status. They seek to belittle and reduce us through their sophistic contortions of public-health and social-science nomenclature. It’s simply a matter of will, to deny our standing, to coerce our submission, to diminish our sense of ourselves.

Countermeasures are needed. The injection of the Declaration’s genetic code into the veins of the body politic is the place to start. That, too, is a matter of will. It requires mandating the equal moral status of our common capacities to reason and to speak – to consent – as the best therapeutic for our social ills, the most effective protocol for our public health. The mandate will expose the faux sophistication of those promising progress beyond this most profound and genuine sense of moral equality.  A case in point. In 1911, Woodrow Wilson told us to abandon natural rights by ignoring the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. Doing so, he promised, would help our country progress. I say we tell Woodrow Wilson and his intellectual progeny to go to hell.

Christopher S. Grenda is a devoted husband, father, and son. He holds a doctorate in history and has enjoyed teaching history for over twenty years.


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