Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Freedom to Choose

We all keep on bragging on how much we value freedom and how important freedom is. Yet, when tested, we seem to deprive the people we love the most of some basic freedoms they should be perfectly entitled to.

I got to think about this after our last doctor's visit with Dylan several weeks ago. The doctor we met is a Liverpool supporter, which means that he and I have a lot to talk about; mainly, I tease him about Liverpool not being good enough to win the title and how their most hated rival (Manchester United) is about to beat them again, and he teases me back in return about Arsenal's awful year. We both feel better for it.
This time around he asked me whether I already got Dylan an Arsenal kit. When I answered, saying Dylan is yet to choose his team, he looked back at me and laughed.

Yet why should he laugh? Why should Dylan be forced to support the team I support for no reason other than me choosing it years ago?
I am unable to come up with a good reason why. I can, however, easily come up with good reasons for why Dylan should not automatically follow me: my choice was made for some very stupid reasons (Arsenal's red colors); but maybe Dylan prefers blue?
Obviously, given that I tend to watch more Arsenal football matches than any other team's, Dylan would be more exposed to Arsenal and is therefore more likely to choose it as his team. That, however, still does not mean I should force Arsenal on him; for a start, most people I know choose the team that was the most dominant one during their childhood years (as did the above mentioned doctor during Liverpool's glory days of the early eighties). Maybe Dylan would prefer to follow this approach over his Arsenal exposure?

In the grand scheme of things the choice of a football team does not matter much. However, just as most of us seem to take it for granted that their children should support their own teams, so do most of us take it for granted that our children should follow our religion. A Christian baby is declared as such long before it is able to understand even the very basic concepts of the system of values that had been forced on it, and a Jewish baby gets circumcised long before he realized he was even born.
Yet we do it without thinking twice. We deprive our own children from making choices of utmost personal effect and we mutilate their bodies without thinking twice.
Freedom to choose? What a joke.

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