What is democracy? Why is it so important to our nation to retain the right to be free from autocracy and dictatorship? Why did we fight and win the two world wars? One so awful, so destructive, so fundamentally against freedom that millions of people were killed just because of their race, their sexuality, their genetic structure – not being blonde and blue-eyed was a death sentence.
If our country is a democracy, then we not only have a right to vote and choose our own government, including a battle that cost many women their happiness and physical well-being. Each individual has the right to choose. The right to choose is not just about government but about values, religious beliefs and any area of life, without fear of judgment or retribution.
What is the point of having a free country where many are not actually free? My overriding and central belief is that everyone should have freedom of choice. That is a democracy. Freedom of speech is not present where people fear reprisal, and experience ostracism, for speaking up.
I understand that laws need to be in place to protect the vulnerable. I do wonder if there is a better way. I need to think about crime and punishment as a concept, as I do not think it creates a better society, it moves the problem. It removes the people who are seen to be a problem. It essentially pushes them into being institutionalised and therefore unable to contribute to our society, even when released from prison.
Many people are in many different sorts of prison. The fear of being judged prevents a huge number of people being themselves. We live in a place which is supposed to show tolerance for difference and mercy to those who lose their way. This is often not the case.
These prison could be sexuality and the fear of being categorised. Individuals are marginalised for being gay, wanting multiple partners or simply enjoying sex for its own sake. Not to hurt or be immoral, just to enjoy the feelings that sex brings. The physical closeness, the feeling of connection and enjoyment with another human being.
The prison could be religious doctrine and fear of reprisal if the individual chooses to move away from the norm. To be a non-conformist in a community that has an absolute view of conformity. Some people are physically, mentally and emotionally tortured to force them to conform. That must be wrong.
When individuals commit a crime, we hide them away. We do not investigate the cause. We do not address the cause. The practice has been to remove, shame and punish an individual for their choice to commit the crime. What if this choice is not really a choice? What if that individual has taken a path that is contrary to their true self, because their true self is distorted by abuse, neglect, lack of education, deprivation in any form. We know people behave irrationally or in a fractured way because they are mentally struggling to reconcile desire and expectation.
I came across a book called ‘What if?‘ by Randall Munroe this week. It asks and answers questions that you may never think to ask but are curious as soon as they are asked.
“What happens if everyone in the world jumps at exactly the same time?”
What if everyone in the world decided to tolerate difference, accept diversity and the right to choose, and invest time or money in helping others at the same time? What would happen then?
My predicted outcomes:
- There would be no war, what would be the point? World Peace could actually come true.
- There would be no prejudice. Individuals and communities could choose to live as they choose without fear and without becoming outsiders.
- The abusers would not abuse. Abusers reach a state where they want to be cruel to others because the world has been cruel to them. If this did not happen, why would individuals abuse others? The abusive state is often a result of suppression for whatever reason, repressed feelings become angry feelings. Abuse stems from pain and hurt. The person hurting wants to hurt others to alleviate their own pain.
- Religions would accept alternative views. Terrorism caused by minor differences in interpretation would be eradicated.
All the things that currently divide us, all the barriers that stand between us, all the hatred would melt away. Sexuality. Religion. Gender. Culture and colour. Language. Traditions. Class. Wealth or poverty. Intelligence. Education. Mental or physical incapacity and ability. Physical appearance… There are so many areas where we judge others. This judgement is inherent in every society, just with alternative flavours depending on where and how you live.
I call the world to arms 🌎. I for one am tired of being judged for who I am!
I’m gay (in fact bisexual which makes it even more complicated), autistic (not diagnosed yet but am fairly sure), a woman, not traditionally beautiful, highly intelligent (I think more like a man than most women), have experienced extreme mental illness, have suffered abuse of different kinds… you get the picture!
What chance do I and did I have in a society which stereotypes me for all these things? I am happy in myself now, but that has taken time and self reflection to achieve. I am 45 years old.
My wish for the next generation is that they are able to be themselves, love themselves and be a positive contributor to our global society by achieving their potential. Please make that wish come true and help me to make a better, safer, more accepting world for us to live in.
Thank you for listening. Love you!
Header photo by Stoica Ionela on Unsplash