Personal Freedoms and Choices

To get my 15 year old son to think and read about things other than sports — mostly baseball — I have had him pick out an article from the front section of the newspaper. We then discuss what he reads. Last Sunday’s the article connected to a number of thoughts.

Peering beyond Muslim veil in Britain describes how many Muslim women in the UK are choosing to wear a Niqab, a veil that covers all but the eyes. Is this the medieval manifestation of female subjugation or a religious practice? Tony Blair and other political leaders were denouncing the practice. It seems they are worried about the lack of integration into British society and possible radicalism among the Muslim population. Given the subway bombings of the not too distant past who can argue? And yet the woman interviewed was not interesting in converting all to her belief. It was a strongly held personal choice that connected her more closely to her god. What possibly can be wrong with that? Given piercings, colored hair, torn jeans and provocative dress, personally I think I can adjust to someone wearing a niqab.

Same weekend, Friday night, saw the play Inherit the Wind. Loosely based on the scopes monkey trial at which the right to teach evolution in the schools was at trial. (Who would have guesses that almost 100 years later we continue to have the evolution vs. intelligent design debate?) So, what is the main point of the play. Choice. Freedom. The right of one belief system — strict interpretation of the Bible — to make criminal another belief system. Even one based on rational thought and scientific evidence. Is this truly a question of choice? Can we allow anyone to hold a particular belief, share it with others, as long as it causes no harm to those nonbelievers? Or is their a right and wrong. At the end of the play the Hero, the lawyer playing the Clarence Darrow role, quotes from the bible to a cynical journalist. I interpreted this to mean that he had respect for at least part of the other point of view.

To me these two stories intersected on the issues of personal choice and freedoms. On the day that Democrats retook congress and Rumsfeld resigned, it felt apropos to share these thoughts.

About 48facets
What you read is what you get.

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