Should People Be Able to Make Their Own Decisions?
By Susannah Wollman
“People should be able to make their own decisions, don’t you think? Don’t you agree that as long as they aren’t stepping on someone else’s toes, people ought to be allowed to make their own decisions?” She is twenty-something, this daughter of mine, and although she has a husband and kids, she still likes to hear what Mom thinks. I’m grateful for that, because it does two things. One, it keeps me in her life. Two, it puts us on “friend footing.”
Friend footing is where you can discuss anything, and there is no judging, no preaching, no cajoling, and no directing. Just equal to equal, sharing hearts and souls. And I like that about my daughters, even if I don’t always agree with them.
I wish I could say that all my daughters are Christians, but that wouldn’t be true. Two are, and one says she is no longer a believer. She says she never truly was, although I held her little hands in mine to teach her how to fold them to pray. I showed her how to bow her head and bend her knees. We demonstrated thankfulness everyday, and showed generosity and unconditional love to all, friends and strangers alike. We homeschooled, with Christ as the center of our curriculum. In fact, one year I spent the whole summer preparing a curriculum that was based on the Sermon on the Mount. Every single subject related back to the Beatitudes in some way. It was tedious work, but work that made me very happy. I was leading my children to God! If only I could make THAT choice for them.
But now she’s grown up, and she is talking about politics, not faith. Once again, she asks me, and I answer honestly: Should people be allowed to make their own decisions? As long as they aren’t stepping on somebody’s toes?
Well, in theory, I agree. But when people decide, for instance, to abort a baby, that’s definitely stepping on “somebody’s” toes, however small they may be. And when people redefine words that are deeply held values to mean something quite different than they actually have historically meant, completely obliterating my deeply held values, then they’ve definitely stepped on MY toes. And when people come into this country and are allowed to act in violation of the laws that I am held to that steps not only on my toes, but on hers, too. And when I want to hold on to what the constitution promised me — government BY the people– and it is treated as though it is nothing but a group of suggestions, then not only have they stepped on my toes and her toes, but the toes of every single person who ever fought in a war for our freedoms or crossed a hand over a heart and said, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”