When life gives you lemons, as per society’s advice you’re expected to make lemonade out of them. But what if you do not want any lemonade? Maybe the lemons seem way too sour for any sugar you know of? Maybe you don’t find yourself left with any resources or energy to make any? Or, maybe you’re simply not interested in lemonade, and just want to let go. Does the society have a right to infringe upon your right to choose?
It’s an age-old debate that we are looking at here, i.e., whether or not a person has the right to end his or her own life, and further, whether or not another person may assist or even decide upon one’s life or death, for one’s sufferings to end. The dilemma here is popularly between two views, that constitute the basis of this moral paradox: first, that the right to die and the choice of which are extremely personal, thus demanding for the non-interference of the State; and the other, that constructing a system where the exercise of this right, without its abuse being minimized is impossible. Euthanasia, has been and is being legalised in numerous nations across the globe. What remains is the question over the morality of euthanasia. Should we let a person die if we see no scope of improvement? Or should we leave it to time?
Can we choose for people who cannot themselves?
We have of course chosen for other people in the past. Be it conquering lands to rule people we deemed unfit for self-governance, or granting people special statuses, thinking they would perish otherwise; be it burning women alive, worrying about their survival post their husbands’ death, or reserving political opportunities for them, sceptical of their acceptance as leaders otherwise; or be it banning same-sex marriage thinking homosexuals couldn’t choose rightly;; people have taken decisions for other people thinking that those other people could not decide for themselves. And as much as one can see, the correctness of these choices was directly dependent upon the correctness of the judgement of the decision makers, about whether the people were capable to choose for themselves or not.
Perhaps, so is the case with morality in the domain of euthanasia. Determine first whether or not the person can elect his or her own fate. There are innumerable cases in which despite doctors having given up, the patients, due to mere will power have made it through the severest of conditions. This can be capitalised upon, by pushing for a psychological encouragement of the patient, to have his or her will kept strong.
But what if the patient wants release? Hope is the greatest God humans have ever known. What if the person sees none left in survival? What if he sees hope in release? No one, obviously has any right whatsoever to hold him back from pursuing this hope. The question here is, how may we determine with surety, if the person really wants to die? Until humanity finds out a way to accurately determine the strength of one’s intentions to die, the legality of euthanasia shall remain a dilemma, perhaps subjective to the cases themselves.
“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”
― Warsan Shire
People from North Korea who travel for so many miles through such horrific conditions to free themselves from the chains of misery cannot tactfully be portrayed as lazy benefit scroungers. Regardless, the asylum seekers from North Korea are treated as economic migrants by China. Almost all the repatriated defectors are subject to inhumane treatments but they still choose to boldly cross over the river to see the distant lights flickering everyday as rays of hope.
China, a permanent member of the UNSC, flagrantly disregards the North Koreans’ refugee rights in China despite knowing that sending them back to Pyongyang would mean torture or even death.Under the Article 33 (1) of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees :“No Contracting State shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
China believes allowing North Korean refugees not only jeopardizes diplomatic ties with North Korea, but also affects national interests. The main concern of China is governing the stay of a large amount of refugees along with the country’s own mammoth population.
Why would someone risk being tortured, arbitrarily detained, into forced labour, raped or even being killed and migrate to a place where they aren’t even welcome – miles away from home – if it wasn’t their absolute last resort? Thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, denying someone the right to escape the clutches of a gory abyss, the ‘axis of evil’ created by Kim Jong is simply ridiculing the untold norms of humanity.
The Jews hid from Hitler for they feared being shoved into concentration camps. The North Koreans flee their homeland for they know very little of what it’s like to live outside of a concentration camp. China is safeguarding the interests of its citizens, its economy and political ties and though it sympathises with the refugees, it chooses not to tackle the problem. Is that the going rate for a human life today? Haven’t our brothers and sisters already paid the price for freedom? If you can’t extend a helping hand, at least let them be.
Since when did all the pseudo-comfort zones we created for existing consume our humanity and conveniently rid us of it?
‘Ew!’, cried little Mike, ‘what are you even doing?’
‘I’m just eating, can’t you see?’, retorted little Om, with a frown.
‘Yikes! You’re disgusting!’, Mike went on, loudly enough to gather the attention of the entire class.
‘You’re really mean!’, fumbled little Om as he burst out crying, ‘what’s wrong with me eating?’
‘You’re eating without a spoon, with your hands,’ said little Tim from behind, ‘and that’s just awful.’
And so, little Om went home crying on the first day of school.
Finding out who’s at fault here shouldn’t be very difficult, as one might spontaneously accuse Mike or even little Tim for this grave a felony. Although, why? Is it wrong that Mike thought that eating with one’s hands was bad? Is it wrong that he was taught to eat with spoons? Is it wrong that Tim thought like Mike did? Or is it wrong that they spoke their minds?
They’re only kids – who’d just begun schooling – who’d seen and heard whatever they had until then within the confines of their homes. They’d perhaps seen their parents only eat with cutlery for as long as they had lived and thus naturally believed that it was the only, or rather, the ‘good’ way to eat. After all, what we believe, what we think and consequently, what we do, is heavily dependent on our experiences. These experiences build the ‘eyes within our eyes’, making us see the world the way we do. As in the case above, the ‘homes’ we live in as individuals can be a euphemism for family, locality, culture, tradition, religion, country and various other similar divisions of an organised society.
When we come across people we analyse them, or more frankly, we judge them. This could well be a potential evolutionary trait, as it sets up an idea of the possible opportunities or harms a person might harbor. The parameters for this judgement are provided by the eyes within. So, when people from other ‘homes’ come by, they are subject to this mental scrutiny, designed almost entirely by these ‘homes’ we belong to. This evaluation of an individual’s personality or motives juxtaposed against one’s own standards, comprises the central ideology of ethnocentrism.
It might seem backward amidst today’s strides for global cultural acceptance, but what we need to understand is that it is a naturally ingrained mental phenomenon and is nothing wrong, at least not in its basic definition. It’s what we do with it that makes it correct or incorrect. Stereotypes exist and there’s no denying that, so the sooner we accept this and realize the need for eliminating the negativity associated with being judgmental, the better it is for our future.
The question is, how shall we identify and then eliminate this negativity. For the former, the problem lies with how we treat people once we’ve gauged them. If you think it’s weird when a Muslim man bows down in a garden in the evening, no one’s stopping you. Instead if you go on to stop him from doing so, just because you don’t find it normal, you’re being questionable. If you think it’s inappropriate for two men to love one another, you’re free to think so. But if you try to deny them their rights due to this, just because you find it unusual, you stand on morally grey grounds. If you think it’s wrong for a woman to roam the streets late midnight, you absolutely can, but if you justify that as reason for her getting raped, you need help. Understanding that you may be the ‘others’ you’ve been judging all along for someone else; putting yourself in their place and realizing how your actions could affect those ‘others’; and that we are all diverse forms of the same living species, solves the latter half of the question.
Your ‘normal’ is only yours. So it’s best you keep it to yourself!
The 2016 edition of IITG MUN saw some of the sharpest minds from all over India participate in heated, intellectual debates over international issues such as unregulated arms trade and Reforms of the UN. IITG MUN in association with UNICEF held a pre-conference article writing contest on the topic “What are the key challenges for India with regard to Children (0-18 years) and/or adolescents (10-19 years) outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals”. We are proud to announce the results of the pre contests article writing contest:
First Place: Saurav Kumar Dutta
Second Place: Priyamvada Jain
Article: Priyamvada Jain
Third Place: Barasha Priam Nath
Article: Barasha Priyam Nath
Spur of the moment phenomena direct most of our lives today. The hundreds of assaults that took place on New Year’s Eve in Cologne were obviously condemnable. The event, described as TAHARRUSH GAMEA, made it to the international front forthwith. Thanks, perhaps, to facebook pages and the twitterati, the air got high on radical ideas and the human brains decisively co-ordinated and lead us all straight out of our comfy homes to rally against the ‘happening’.
Taharrush gamea is an Arab word meaning collective public harassment of a woman by a group of 20-30 men. Two sets of men encircle the woman; while the inner circle assaults, gropes and pulls at the woman – often tearing her clothes apart and sometimes even raping the woman – the outer circle tries to keep the public distracted. Then, the outer circle moves in and exchanges roles with the inner circle to commit the same unimaginable horrors on the woman. To think that an idea so horrifying originated in the 21st century itself (in some Muslim Nations), only to keep women journalists at bay, leaves one uncertain for the future of our world.
But, undoubtedly, assaults have happened since time immemorial, and everywhere in the world. Only when it happens in this manner, in those Muslim Nations, is it termed as Taharrush Gamea. Otherwise, it is simply called harassment. The Cologne attack was termed Taharrush SOLELY because the offenders were Muslim.
So one can wonder, has a similar thing never happened before? Has a woman never been assaulted in Cologne, or anywhere in the rest of the world? Why do only ‘big’ events lead us out to the streets? And why have we always been prejudiced against all of Islam?
According to WHO, one in every three women has been sexually assaulted at least once in her lifetime. I’m sure we haven’t witnessed a ‘million’ protests rising up against sexual assault, while each of those million victims did experience an equally horrible event. Once we are done with protesting, the event fades into oblivion within no time. The dos and don’ts we draw up once in a year during the ‘big’ events end up more like those set of rules we’d deliberately forget. We need to change this attitude of ours. We need to be affected by every small event, by every inhumane move people make.
Agreed, the offenders were migrants and Muslims. But, not all migrants or Muslims should be forced to bear the brunt of the blame of the people – who want all the migrants out of Germany just because of a few hooligans who exist in every country, cutting across all religions. Most of the migrants were genuinely escaping destruction and war in their original countries, and they desired no violence because they obviously had had their share in their lifetime. Holistically speaking, shouldn’t we be a little considerate towards them?
BUT – let the above discussion not leave an impression that we should pour our hearts out to the offenders too. Our guards need to be strengthened, because when offenders end up stating so shamelessly -“I am a Syrian, you have to treat me nicely—Mrs. Merkel invited me!” (Thanks to the liberal open door policy that ‘Mrs. Merkel’ implemented)- we know that people have started taking advantage of a sensitive situation.