We live in the age of rights. The right of free speech, right to choose, rights for warranty, gay rights, you name it - these days, there's someone, somewhere claiming their rights for everything.
But where do these rights come from?
If we look at the ancient scripts, the bible, torah, koran, and the rules bestowed through them, the common ground is the responsibilities bestowed upon the people. Not one right granted.
But how does this fit in with outdoor activities? Access rights, right to protection. Or should we focus on our responsibilities? Our responsibility to those we are out with, that we all come home safe and sound, that we only use those resources we really need, and leave no trace of our having been there.
So what are rights and what are responsibilities? And how does accountability fit in, together with punishment? Can rights exist without responsibilities, or responsibilities without rights?
Put simply, a right is something that is given to you, by laws created by governments, yet how can you demand that others uphold your rights? And how do you hold someone accountable for not giving you something?
Responsibility is an internalisation. You take responsibility for your actions, for how you interact with the world around you, to uphold the rights of others. If someone else fails to fulfil their responsibilities, you can define which responsibility they failed on. And you can call upon a company, person or government to fulfil their responsibilities until they do.
Accountability is for when someone has not acted upon their responsibilities. We punish the lack of responsibility, not the encroachment of someone else's rights.
At the end of the day you, you can strip me of every right I might have and not a single thing will change in my life. But remove responsibility and everything falls apart. Rights are me, responsibilities are us, together. In my whole career in the Outdoor industry, I've never been given a single right. I've always taken responsibility for those with me. In fact I don't believe I need any rights, as long as everyone respects their responsibilities. Hence why the Terms & Conditions for this website are written using responsibilities instead of rights. Also why we require you to take responsibility for information you share on this site.
So take responsibility for yourself and those around you. Get the right knowledge, the right experience,and use the right gear to make sure you make the right decisions so that everyone comes home safe and the next people don't have to see you were there.