Ah, Yoda. The little green wise man of Star Wars fame always has a special place in my heart. Words of wisdom and humor, he never fails to hold me up. And, all I can think of right now, is “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” All that fear and anger and hate doesn’t lead to anything positive. Sure, it makes us feel good and righteous in the moment, but how do we feel in the morning?
This recent week has been a huge struggle for me. I don’t want to live in anger and the reason for my anger is based in expectations. We all have expectations of our executive, judicial, and legislative arms of the government. We all have expectations of people who have a university education, are well-read, and even classically trained in logic and critical thinking. I know my anger generally stems from deeply rooted expectations of what I think people “should” do. What is that? Well, whatever I think is the right thing to do. (This is sarcasm… with a touch of truth) Whatever I think is the noble, kind, intelligent, and yes, my-personal-opinion-is-right thing to do. I know this. I own it. That is why I don’t express anger like I’ve seen in the past week. I take it inside and examine it. I look at “what did I expect?” I generally answer that with “not what happened.” Since others don’t own my expectations, how can I be mad at them?
I also think this post will create a lot of anger. People don’t expect me to speak my mind nor be contrary to what they sometimes think. Maybe I’ve just listened too long and not spoken up. For this topic, though, I want you to talk with me not shut me out. Don’t be part of the polarization happening out there.
Thing is, with SCOTUS and people’s reactions and media coverage, I did expect this. I expected this to happen. Which is why I’m not mad. Not in the way that most people are. I’m not outraged. I never believed the Justice’s confirmation hearings that they wouldn’t “touch” Roe Vs. Wade or overturn it. We’re fools to think they were telling the truth. Likewise, we are fools to believe our legislators believed it, too. No, my anger lies in a different place, in place where I think people hope we don’t look.
I believe that the legislature of the United States has had fifty years to make into law what needed to be law. The right to federal abortion, as well as many other bodily autonomy decisions, to not need to be resting in the hands of “decisions” made by the Supreme Court. No. Where I hold my anger at the inaction and ineptitude is with our Congress. Where is the leadership that has left so many of us wanting in the past decades? The approval ratings for our legislators, the ones who should be bringing our opinions to bear into the laws of the nation, was 18% in January of 2022. The vitriol and divisiveness of our nation is reflective of that which sits in the House and the Senate. The inability to come together for the good of the people will bring our nation to its knees, if it hasn’t already. Compromise is a dirty word. Centrist is an even dirtier one.
Why do I feel this way? I feel this way because of the way we have, as a nation, ignored the overall fundamental right that seems to need a law to make us become civil again. That is of bodily autonomy. I believe there should be an amendment to constitutions, state if not federal, that ensures that every human has the right to sovereignty over their own body.
Let’s start with a fundamental principle, the idea of personal freedom, or a right to be free. People living in the U.S.A. are very hip to the idea of being free. Yet, the most basic freedom that we need, in order to enjoy all other freedoms, is the right to our own bodily sovereignty. We cannot vote, have freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, or to gather peaceably, or to exercise our right to religion without the right to choose what is best for us. These premier rights, as spelled out in the Bill of Rights, require the fundamental need to choose what is best for our person. In order to do that, we need to have the right to our own autonomy. We can and should not assert ourselves over no one but ourselves. Each individual has the right to decide, for themselves, what is best for their own being. Choice is paramount.
If you would not agree, I would very much like to hear the arguments against that. To me, it appears logical.
We have fragments of bodily autonomy in our laws, customs, and mores. Most people don’t know that it is settled law that you cannot, legally, desecrate a corpse because that is disrespectful of the human that inhabited the body. You cannot harvest another person’s (living or dead) body parts without their approval. You cannot force someone who might be a perfect blood-type match to donate blood to you to save your life. In some states, you may be able to chose to die, based on a life-threatening condition. You have the right to choose resuscitation if you have a medical emergency, or not, depending on your own personal religious practices or personal ethical beliefs.
Yet, recently we have, on all sides, threatened that bodily right. We try to apply morality to bodily autonomy and say that it is Universal Law. It is “God’s Will.” Some may say “it’s my body my choice” to deny vaccines but then to deny autonomy when it comes to reproductive questions, or vice versa. Attempted suicide is a crime but actual suicide is no longer a crime. I am perplexed at the logic that some have for the nature of personhood and moral laws. The hypocrisy.
What do I think? I think that we should all have the right to bodily autonomy as long as it does not hurt another living, breathing human being. We have the choice to do with our body what we need or want because it is the one thing that we’re in charge of in this life. We’re not in charge of another’s body, morals, ethics, or actions. We have ourselves and that is all. We accept the responsibility for the moral and ethical actions we take. We should have the right to commit suicide, do drugs, drink alcohol, to abort a pregnancy, to take or not take medicines and vaccines, to make body modifications, to change our genders, donate organs, cremation, and do whatever else is in the realm of human possibility. It’s our right and if done, it is our responsibility, too. I think there should be an amendment in this country or in our states that guarantees us this right because, it seems, we are hopeless about actually letting people live their own lives.
Does it mean you have to do all of it because it’s legal? Uh, no. But that’s the point. It’s not about being ‘pro-do-everything-and-anything-you-want;” it’s about letting responsible human beings make a choice about living their best life.
At this point, you all should take a deep breath and continue to read with an open mind. Please. The next post will probably be more challenging.
There is a lot to unpack here, so I am saving the vaccine and abortion discussion for another post. You may or may not have all sorts of reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with me. It’s okay. I have my opinions, beliefs, and thoughts, too. I’m happy to discuss but in a civil way. If you can’t be civil, go now and come back when you can be. I won’t tolerate yelling, screaming, ad hominem attacks, spurious arguments, emotional pleas, or absolutes. Discuss with me. Debate with me. Talk with me. Provide me the picture of what you see. Be curious about my point of view. Then we can take this discussion further. Then, maybe, I’ll post my follow on about specific topics. Until then, let’s all just breathe. Listen. Form your own opinion. And think.