In the part of the world where I live, most people would consider themselves to be free. We are free to choose our partners, our opinions, our education, our hobbies, our jobs. We enjoy freedoms, which many people in many other parts of the world can only dream of. I consider myself lucky to live here, and I am grateful for not having to fight for basic human rights, such as expressing my views or receiving education without fearing for my life.
But there is one right, which is continuously ignored despite it being so fundamental it should be an unequivocal given in any civilised country:
The right to do whatever you want with your own body.
Of course I realise that the mere open questioning of this matter, is possible only because I am lucky enough to enjoy most other freedoms. In countries where not even basic rights are protected, people are still fighting to gain even some semblance of authority over their own lives, let alone complete autonomy over themselves.
But this does not detract from the importance of this issue; rather it adds to it, seeing as it trumps every other human right by being the one that encompasses all of them.
It never fails to amaze me how many people don’t give this issue much, if any, thought. We take for granted that if it strikes our fancy we can buy a car, paint it neon green, fill it with ping pong balls and set it on fire, because it is our property, yet most don’t seem to consider how vastly more limited we are, when it comes to what we can do with the fleshy vessels with which we traverse this globe .
If your own life is not your property, whose is it? Who is to decide what you can and cannot eat, drink or smoke?
Substances are arbitrarily made illegal, despite them having no worse effect on the body than many legal ones. Even if they are unhealthy, what business is it of anyone’s if I want to eat a pot brownie with cocaine sprinkles and wash it down with a cherry flavoured ayahuasca cocktail? As long as I am not bothering anyone or forcing them to partake, it is obscene that this freedom is denied. Some make the argument that drugs should stay illegal as the ingestion of certain substances can lead to behaviour which may be dangerous or unnecessarily taxing to the surrounding environment. This argument falls short, firstly because several legal substances can have this effect yet continue to be legal and secondly, it is perfectly possible to enjoy recreational chemicals without ending up as a hopeless vagrant with dubious fashion sense and bad oral hygiene. Rather than continuing this pointless and unsuccessful war on drugs, there should rather be a war on misinformation about drugs, which would most likely save more lives in one year than this nonsensical criminalization has done from the time of its damned inception to this day.
Additionally, who is to decide whether you should live or die? Even in some of the most progressive countries where euthanasia is allowed, people still have to go through rigorous tests to be declared eligible for assisted suicide. I find it more than a little bit laughable that it is considered fair to have a panel, consisting of anyone but the person directly affected by the outcome, deciding the person’s fate. For some reason others are always seen as more equipped to judge the pain or discomfort of any given individual; others who have no understanding of what it feels like to be that person.
I understand laws and regulations that pertain to how we treat others. These laws are crucial in protecting people from being abused and mistreated. What I don’t understand is why we accept laws which limit our personal freedom to such an extent that we are no longer the masters of our own selves.
Ironically, we have all the freedom we want to create a whole new human being, regardless of our competence to take care of it. Sure, children can be taken away from their parents if they are deemed unfit, but by that time the damage is done, and the useless caretaker can happily start the whole circus all over again, hurting even more defenseless children in the process. Try and even whisper the words ‘forced sterilisation’ and you will be met with a tsunami of angry retort stating that no one has the right to force such a thing on another person. I find it strange that you can force life on someone who never asked for it, yet disposing of your own is left in everyone else’s hands but yours.
Some say that we all have to make sacrifices to be able to live together in this society. We can’t just walk around doing whatever we please with ourselves, as the societal structure would surely collapse if we were allowed to smoke a joint once in a while, go on psychedelic odysseys into the farthest reaches of our minds or kick the bucket by choice. The thing is that we’ve never given it a real chance, and who knows, maybe if we started treating adults as adults, instead of unruly children who need to be controlled, we might just see a positive outcome.