I got this idea from the know Your Rights Group – full confession! But the more I learned, the more I wanted to put these things into action, and show other people how to put them into action. That’s when I realised the only way to stand up for your rights is to first be able to understand those rights. Or, in other words: If you want to stand for your rights, you must first understand your rights.
A really good example of this is a guy named Paul. A large crowd didn’t like the message he was speaking So they started chanting “Kill him! He’s an insect! Stomp on him!” they shook their fists and filled the air with curses. Then the captain intervened and ordered Paul to be interrogated under torture, in order to find out why the crowd was so mad. As they put him in chains, getting him ready to be whipped, Paul says slyly “Is this legal? Torturing a Roman citizen without a fair trial?” The centurion went to the captain and said “Do you realise what you’ve done? This man is a Roman citizen!” The captain came and took charge and asked Paul “Is what I hear right? You’re a Roman citizen?”
Paul replied “I certainly am”
The captain was impressed “I paid a huge sum for my citizenship. How much did it cost you?”
“Nothing.” Said Paul. “It cost me nothing, I was free from the day of my birth.” This put a stop to the interrogation and it put the fear of God into the captain. He had put a Roman citizen in chains and come within a whisker of putting him under torture! The next day, determined to get to the root trouble and know for sure what was behind the accusation, the captain released Paul and ordered a meeting of all the high priests and the High Council to see what they could make of it.*
Paul knew his rights, and used them to save himself from a beating. He also made it clear to the centurions that he knew that what they were doing was wrong. If the centurions had committed a crime by violating the law, they too could’ve ended up in chains and whipped. So not only was Paul defending himself, he was holding the guards accountable. Remember, he was very close to being whipped and beaten. If he hadn’t spoken up, he would’ve received a whipping. Sometimes our consequences might not be so severe, but it’s important to stand up for ourselves and each other so that it doesn’t get to that stage.
In this section, we will be looking at our constitutional rights, and educating people on how to stand up for their rights, and how to protect them. I will be sharing other sources, sites and resources that I find that can help towards this endeavour.
*You can find this story in Acts chapter 22 verses 21 to 30. (I was using the Message version)