DSM: The right to live as one pleases

From: Ardeshir Mehta, N.D. (ardeshir@sympatico.ca)
Date: Fri Feb 01 2002 - 19:21:26 EST


Hi All,

Victoria makes some valid points. But my replies to them are, I think,
also valid.

First:

> A few points--Some governments, like the one in Ontario, do not
> let people do nothing all their life--they force them to look for a job
> or do community service.

If this *is* true, that means that Ontario is *not* a free society.

But I donít see the Ontario government steeping in to force a per-
son who is *not* on welfare (i.e., has inherited some money, say,
or is otherwise independently wealthy) to work!

If the government steps in to make people work for *public* money,
then that, in my opinion, is not taking away their freedom: though I
do think that is not the right way to treat people on welfare. But it
is not coersion to ask for *something* in return for money.

> Besides the point, I have an uncle who for most of his life has done
> "nothing".
>
> He is 60, used to smoke, get drunk, watch pornography, do
> puzzles, whatever he wanted all the time, and still lives with my
> grandfather and is supported by him financially.
>
> Now he is diabetic, has only part of a tooth left, no money to pay
> for dentures or eyeglasses. He was married once (he was handsome
> and charismatic), and quickly his wife left him after he did
> "nothing" for months, and they lived on welfare.
>
> He is the supreme example of an adult, raised in an authoritarian
> school and society, who on becoming an adult would take no
> responsibility for himself.
>
> This is not the model I want my daughter to admire.

No, of course not. But I would still defend to the death his right to
live that way; for if his right to live his life as *he* sees fit is taken
away, then next, who knows but they might take away my rights to
live mine as *I* see fit! And then they might also come for you.

> I believe that children, if given freedom from the early years, will
> use that freedom to find their way, and will not absolve themselves
> from responsibility when adult.

So do I. But if they *do* absolve themselves of responsibility,
then should the freedom given to them in the past be judged a
bad thing? Surely not.

> ...
> I also feel that parents do have a responsibility to the health of
> their children.
>
> I have a 5-year-old who gets pinworms often (accompanied by
> sleepless nights, screaming pain, etc.), and I feel that after letting
> her try to keep her own diet in check I will have to impose rules.

But does she *want* you to cure her by the imposition of rules? If
she does -- as a sick person might ask for treatment from a doctor,
knowing that the treatment might be in some respects painful -- then
fine; on the other hand, though, if she resists your treatment, do you
have a right to impose it on her?

At age five, I agree, however, that this is a tough choice. She *might*
know better than you, for after all, she may know her own body best;
but on the other hand she might be just *borderline* too young to
know her own body best.

Maybe at this stage it would be best to consult the experts. And
if they disagree even among themselves, then trust in the LORD
(or, if you are an atheist, then trust in the *vis medcatrix naturae*
(i.e., "healing force of nature").

> I don't see any difference in allowing children to eat a whole bunch
> of candy, for it will affect their mood, their happiness, their
> immune system, their relations to others, etc., for it acts like a
> drug.

Yes, it does, but we take drugs all the time: they are called "medi-
cines"! My son Cyrus eats tons of chocolates: it calms him down.
What's wrong with that?

> Unless, of course, you would allow your 5-year-old to do heroine.
> :-)

Personally I'd say, No: one should not allow some things which can
have such serious consequences that one's entire life is adversely af-
fected forever afterwards. But this is no different from insisting on hold-
ing a toddler's hand when crossing the road. Common sense rules here
-- indeed it *must* rule here, despite what Einstein might have said
in derision about common sense!

> There are limits on the freedoms adults can give children, and each
> person has their own idea of it.

True. But I think we can have an objective standard also. An ob-
jective standard which seems to me reasonable is to give as much
freedom as is compatible with no *direct* harm *definitely* arising
as a result of an action performed freely by the child. (But "harm
*might* arise indirectly" is not, however, a sufficient excuse to take
away freedom.)

> Whether with SVS, or other situations, true freedom can only be
> aspired to, and as long as we keep trying, I think there can be no
> better goal.

I agree only partly. True freedom *can* be attained, not merely as-
pired unto, as long as the principle of "do no direct and definite harm"
is kept in mind.

But yes, I agree that there can be no better goal than true freedom.
Certainly not education!

Best,

Ardeshir <http://homepage.mac.com/ardeshir/AllMyFiles.html>.

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