Freedom, Now

Like you most probably, many discussions amongst my friends also centre around China’s economic clout and how it might soon take over the world because of it. However my contention in such discussions always is, “Umm, I’m not so sure”. Here’s why.

Yes, China has all the appropriate indicators flashing green for it. The numbers match and the percentages soar. But, China denies its people a basic right -The right to freedom; freedom of thought and freedom to act. And to me, if people are not free to make fundamental life choices, it’s a bit of a stretch to buy into the happy and content myth.

For the short-term, for as long as economic bounty helps them alleviate their poverty, the Chinese populace may bear certain hardships and curbs on freedom. However, once their basic needs are catered to, they will want to “live their life” – as opposed to being directed by the state into living it. Fundamental to this will be the right to plan one’s family. In China, average number of children per family pre-Mao was 6, now it is 1. I refuse to believe that this drastic change over a few decades has been brought about without heartburn and without a severe curtailing of a husband and wife’s most basal desire – the desire to plan their family, their way. The common man in China may not speak up now, but will he forever remain quiet? Forcing down an ethic, impinging on personal freedom is what makes me leave China with a question mark.

Cut to USA, 2012.

A country that has stood for salient, admirable tenets of democracy, liberty and equality finds itself perched at strange crossroads today. This is a year of elections and therefore it is almost a necessary corollary that it will be a year of playing to the gallery and vote bank politics – that is fine and acceptable for the most part. However lines get crossed when electoral rhetoric impinges on personal freedom.

And that is happening with two important topics these days – The pro choice debate and questioning the need for higher education.

A comparatively emancipated, well read, out and about woman in the US today will not have it in her hand to plan her family if the Republicans have their way. By bringing in God (oh how we discredit Him), morality (who is anyone to say anything about morals anyway), shame, fear, guilt (that deadly cocktail), people like Santorum are turning the idea of living in the 21st century on its head. And frankly, I don’t understand what the root of their argument is. Is it..

..Keep having babies because that’s what you were meant to do? [Really? Where is that written?]

..Keep the baby despite knowing it may not survive? [Why do that to yourself and the baby?]

..Keep the baby despite risks to your own life, welfare and long term psychological well-being? [Why?]

..(Or is the fear is that) Legalising abortion might lead women to a more promiscuous lifestyle? [If so, then the issue needs to be addressed appropriately by educating young girls about meaningless sex and its consequences. Banning abortions cannot be the answer.]

Oh, but then going by Santorum, education per se is not worth investing in, right? Because according to him, college degrees breed liberals and that is not good. Hell yes, not good for “them” because they don’t like educated, questioning minds. They prefer folks with blinders that can be led wherever…

Romney wants to balance his budget by eliminating funding for the Planning Parenthood program. Limbaugh is calling a college student “slut” for wanting insurance coverage for birth control pills. Virginia is looking at a bill which will mandate penetrating women with a wand to picture their fetuses; to have them acquaint with it before undergoing an abortion. The most shocking part is that this blundering idiot, Santorum, is running successfully, winning many a state. These guys obviously are connecting; connecting with people who in my mind stand effectively against – Freedom.

In China, personal choices are affected by the political system, by selling the greater national good over that of an individual. Here, in America, in 2012, personal choices are being riddled with Guilt and God. Women are being questioned about their freedom to plan their families and their lives. Families are being asked to forsake higher education for the fear of leaving “the fold”.

Seriously guys, this is the USA. It’s from where the likes of China are supposed to draw inspiration, not the other way around. And that, is all.

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