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Whether it is in a credit card commercial or in the latest top 40 hit, the words "It is your life" echo. So often we fight to be who we are because so many others try to influence us to be more like them. We are hit over the head with the Bible on Sundays with who the preacher thinks the Bible says we should be. Our parents try to guide us down roads where we don't make the same mistakes as them. Our friends set the latest trends that so many try to keep up with. But when speaking in abstract philosophical discussions we always come back to "It is ultimately your choice what you do with your life".
This body you live in is your responsibility. The decisions you make with it have a direct affect on your life, regardless what repercussions you may or may not incur with your peers. That being said, we have no power to "protect people from themselves" no matter what you think. We try to use group consensus to force moral decisions down the throats of all. In general, we are okay with this until it is our choices that are attacked. We allow our governments to set laws that punish us for decisions that only affect ourselves to have power behind our "high moral ground" point of view. We have made all drugs illegal, except for alcohol and cigarettes (who have lots of money for our gov and lobbyists to set laws). In some places, gambling is outlawed or restricted to state run lotteries (because the money goes to a "good cause" that our politicians are supportive of). We are reprimanded if our speech does not follow the line of political correctness (even if it is actually factual and true). We are fined if we don't wear seat belts. We are arrested if we attempt suicide and fail. We give up our right to privacy so our government may find some information to prevent a terrorist attack. We reject civil unions between homosexuals because it is "immoral" and use our government to illegalize it. We support the teaching of all different types of religion, except Christianity, in our schools to "enlighten our youth" regardless of parent's beliefs. And in general, the masses are okay with this because "It doesn't affect ME".
How you choose to live is your choice. If you snort cocaine, it will weaken your heart, shrink you genitals, cause you to be angry, and suck all your money out of the bank. Your bad, not mine. At the same time making laws that say this is illegal has not stop the average coke head from doing exactly that. These laws have made the inner city neighborhoods less safe with drug dealers having turf wars around playgrounds. It has filled up our jails with lots of people that only have this strike against them while rapists get an early parole. It has increased our taxes and restricted our liberties as the government needs these to fight this "war on drugs". You see the messages all over the television and it does not change the mind of the person already addicted. Has throwing any alcoholic in jail ever helped them with their addiction? No, it is the rehab places and AA that has the success rates, not jails.
We have chosen laws instead of parenting to teach morals. Nowhere have I seen a class taught on personal responsibility, and yet this is where the problem lies. We always blame someone or something else for our mess ups instead of our own free choices. If we want to change the way our world is, is the solution throwing all in jail who don't agree with the masses?
The Native Americans taught to their youth a thing called personal truth. This teaching states that what is true and right for you is so for Great Spirit has made you this way. This truth may not fit all. Your path is yours and mine is my own. Only in our hearts can we find what is right and wrong for our own lives. In the book of I Corinthians in the Bible, Paul states on their debate of what they were allowed to eat "Meat commends us not to God: for neither are we better if we eat, or worse if we go without. But take heed that your liberty not become a stumbling block for those who are weak." In other words, what is right for you, you have the right to do as long as it does not pain anyone around you in the process. I believe this to be true and live my life as such. My choices for my life are mine alone, but I must be responsible with them for they may intrude on someone else's choices.
I do not agree with many of the things I spoke of at the beginning of this piece, but who am I to dictate what people may or may not be able to do? I ask the same of all who read this: What right does anyone have to dictate anyone else's freedom of choice?