Does free will equal freedom of choice?

We live our lives thinking that we are free to do whatever we want most of the time. We are grateful that we have the freedom to vote to elect our representatives, we have the freedom to marry whoever we want, the freedom to speak out and dress however we want. Those are just some of the freedoms that we take for granted every day, just because we were born into it. People from other countries have their freedom restricted on a daily basis.

Like with anything – the more freedom we get, the more of it we want. We are not a lawless society, so of course, we follow all sorts of laws and regulations, believing that they are ultimately for our good. It starts with our parents, who tell us what we can, and what we cannot do, then we hear more dos and don’ts from our teachers, and then we are all grown up (presumably :D), responsible to know what’s wrong and what’s right. While we have agreed to follow the rules in some situations and we do not think twice about doing so, there are some aspects of our lives in which we value the freedom of OUR choice. There are some things we believe are ours and that only we can decide what to do when put in certain situation. Can you imagine not being able to choose your favorite ice cream flavor? Or not being able to choose what you want to do to relax after a long day at work?

This past week, I was confronted with TWO articles, which shocked me to the core. The first article is entitled: “Charlie Gard not allowed to receive Vatican’s care, hospital spokesman says.” That is something that made my jaw drop. The title basically says it all. The main character is (or should be…) a baby, who was born with a rare genetic condition. The patient is currently being held at a British hospital, where medical professionals say there is nothing they can do. Having a medical background, I am aware of the fact that the baby might not recover, so my outrage was not led by false hope. I have had some friends in the past, who raised lots and lots of money just so they could come to the USA and give a new doctor/ treatment a chance. What will you not try to save your own child? Even if the hope is nonexistent, would you not do whatever it takes just so you will not have any remorse/ “what ifs” in the future?

In this case, both Pope Frances and President Trump voiced their support for the family, saying they would welcome them in their respective countries for any needed treatments for the baby. Sounds like a great story, right? People are trying to help! That should be great, right? Nope. Not in this case, it is not. The little boy’s parents WANT to try different treatments. They WANT to take their baby to the Vatican or to the USA, but the hospital their son is at, will not allow it. The parents went to court to fight for their rights and the EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS REFUSED to hear their case. Can you sense my anger? Their argument is that the life support should be withdrawn so the suffering of the child is not prolonged. I get that. I get the ethics regarding a suffering human being. HOWEVER, when did it become OK for hospitals to take patients hostage when they cannot provide any care? I understand that they can provide their expert opinion, but should it not ultimately be the right of the patient (or in this case his parent’) to decide what to do? Is it not murder? Is the blood not on the hands of the hospital staff and the court of HUMAN RIGHTS?!?!?!?

Yes, euthanasia is pretty widely accepted (compared to a decade or two ago), but this is something completely different. The parents are the guardians of that little baby. I see a lawsuit coming in the near future… It is completely unacceptable to sentence someone to death like this, without their parents’ consents. One medical professional says that what Frances and Trump are doing is “extremely unhelpful and very cruel”. I have no words… Again, it is not about instilling false hope, but giving options, giving freedom of choice! The expert later adds that the family SHOULD be allowed to make their own decision. It is so upsetting to see people from different corners of the world reaching out to help, but the parents are not allowed to take their hand… I saw a short clip in which the baby’s parents speak out about wanting to take their kid elsewhere and they only praise the hospital he is in. I am not sure if I could take that high road…

The second article is less dramatic, but very much infringing on our freedom of choice. Starting in 2020, every high school graduate to be will have to provide a government approved plan for the rest of their lives. Well, OK, I am exaggerating a bit, but only a bit. The new Chicago rule says that in order to graduate from high-school, one has to present: acceptance letters to colleges, a gap-year program, military service documentation, trade apprenticeship or a job offer. No, this is not a joke. The government is trying to force high-schoolers to make up their minds about their immediate futures. For now, there does not seem to be a penalty for those who do not provide the above-mentioned documents, but that it will be strongly encouraged to do so.

This is actually an interesting idea, but they are going about it the wrong way. I do regret not having access to career counseling in high-school, or even at the university, but I would have hated to not only stressing about finals and essays and grades, but also having to stress about figuring my life out. You have to do x, y and z in order to graduate. OK… that is motivation of some sorts. For some. But:
– if they are not going to really enforce it (i.e. they will allow for graduations without accomplishing said goals), will the students stop following it?
– will it not lead to more high-school dropouts?
There clearly is a lot of unknown in this equation.
Again, is this not restricting our freedom? Freedom to choose with our lives? Yes, it is good that they are trying to turn kids into productive members of society, but is that really the way to go? Some high-schoolers will go to college, some will find a job, some will enlist in the military. What happens to all those that cannot? Governmental help to become someone would be great, but governmental restriction on becoming a nobody should not be a thing of our future…


Hmm? What did you say? I did not hear ya.

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