Freedom of choice – Why is it murky?

Over the past week when I was stuck in an inspiration less phase, plenty of thoughts buzzed around my head. A few came from current happenings, a few from personal experiences and observations. My friend Arch wrote to ask what I thought of the Delhi High Court ruling that decriminalizes homosexuality. I thought it was great! I also saw this twitter update on my list from prabhuferrari that read “Adam was made for Eve and not Steve”. I could not help suppressing a chuckle. Also over the weekend, my ten year old nephew made a statement about his teacher that set me thinking.

I grew up in a time and place where birds and bees abounded. There was no direct talk and cinemas showed a bee buzzing over flowers swaying in the wind when they wanted to portray intimacy in a relationship. I am not getting into a discussion of whether this was right or wrong but cloaking human needs in secrecy and making it adult only perpetuated a false sense of innocence. As I grew up and battled black, white and grey in my mind, I realized what a beautiful thing freedom of choice was. Right or Wrong is a perspective. Each person has a right to choose. To choose the way they want to live. The Delhi HC has set the correct tone in my opinion for going forward. I really hope the SC follows suit.

Having said that a few things disturb me. How do you educate kids and young adults on respecting personal boundaries if you are not clear yourself? When my nephew whispered into K’s ear that his teacher was married to another woman, there was an element of voyeurism. A sense of peeking into something taboo. If I felt that way inspite of knowing that it is personal choice, how do I unlearn those feelings?

All my life marriage has stood for a relationship between opposite sex. Now, suddenly laws and rules are changing all I know around. How do you redefine relationships in a two father or two mother family? Unless we incorporate these social changes into our system and unlearn old behaviors, we will see a period of social unrest before a new norm is established. While the society am part of still has trouble accepting intermixing of religion and caste in marriage, same sex marriages and relationships are a long way off.

So, while I cheer the breaking down of antiquated laws, I am curious to see how people like you and I will adapt to changing social mores.

5 comments

  1. Laksh,
    Just a couple of points on the use of the word ‘personal choice’ – not sure in what sense you meant it. Most scientific organizations are of the opinion that
    homosexuality is not a choice. It is an orientation depending a complex set of factors including genes , environment etc much like the diversity of sexualities existing in the animal kingdom. Heterosexuals did not choose heterosexuality any more than homosexuals choosing homosexuality. It is only the religious nut cases who oppose alternate sexualities as a ‘personal choice’ to bolster their conversion and ‘against our culture’ cases.

    As for instilling these in children, teaching them scientifically about the diversity of sexuality in nature and the need to respect human rights itself is good enough. To me, if parents and society does not choose to teach and pass on homophobia, then that would be a great personal choice!

  2. You have raised some tough questions Laksh. Like Vidya says, it’s best to be matter-of-fact and avoid coloring impressionable minds with our opinions, views and perspective.

  3. As time moves on and we live and learn about life we understand what it means to each individual. I too have been thinking of this issue for a few years now and have come to the conclusion that god has made us all different for a reason. Sometimes the reason is something which we cannot full understand or appreciate, like the question not how but why the earth was created ?

    The way in which I have tackled the issue of life and how we were created is to explain as best as I possibly can without going over the top about it, to my son. In time as he grows and continues to ask the same questions I will tell him more.

  4. @Arch: Lets hope change is the keyword for this century. 🙂
    @Vidya: I agree with what you say. My choice of words take away from what I am trying to say. Thanks for pointing it out. I do mean that every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
    @Suman: I guess that is the key.
    @Kiran: I guess with kids, the onus is on the parents as frontline to allow for a healthy discussion and perceptions.

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