Re: “Of masks and rights” [July 19, Opinion]:

Cornell W. Clayton is correct, our obsession with rights has obscured our moral duties. How did this happen?

This country resulted from a rebellion against the longstanding oppressions of the “common man” and the 13 colonies’ leadership. The Constitution set this country on a track to recognize the right of every individual to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Constitution set the framework for this new country and has had an important impact on the expectation for human rights throughout the world.

However, the U.S. Constitution, with its amendments; legislation; and the actions of the American people have not kept up with the evolution and maturation of humankind. This has been obvious when comparing the various responses to and effectiveness in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic in different countries. With every right comes a responsibility, for both the individual and the “community.” This holds true for masks, speech, guns, religion, property, marriage, money, occupation, recreation — with every right comes a responsibility.

It is time for every American who claims a right to recognize the responsibility that comes with that right. As a country, we are out of date in our principles, actions and governance.

J. David Beatty, Mercer Island