When does education cease to be so? Probably when the educatee fully understands a concept, idea or what-have-you, right?
A friend of mine put things in a new light for me last night. Let's say a friend of yours (who we'll call Eric) is doing something that will almost certainly eventually harm him or kill him. As this is a sex ed site, unprotected sex will work just fine as an example. Now, if Eric understands the potential consequences of his actions and is fine with them - and is willing to stop them at the point where he might harm others - does that make them okay?
My friend argued that if someone understands what they're doing - be it dangerous sex, excessive drinking or overeating - and understands what that person is doing to themselves, and understands why they're doing it (i.e. they're not in denial about something, and overeating because of it) that they should be allowed to do what they want.
"Life isn't great for everyone," she said to me, "and just because you have a hangup about death, that doesn't mean that you should prevent them from killing themselves, if the activity that's killing them is making them happy at the same time."
I didn't have a comeback, and I'm rethinking my whole outlook on this.
Do any of you have a comeback or any other thoughts?
I think any response really depends on whether or not one believes that anyone's actions can occur in a vacuum, or if one believes that everyone and everything is interconnected and interdependent.
Personally, both logic, history, personal experience and my intuition incline me to think the former may well be an impossibility save a person who is quite literally forever starnded alone on an island.
Even with the example you gave, for instance, unprotected sex with a partner does not only involve that person and his partner but every other partner they may have, and the partners those partners may have (ad infinitum), whomever shoulders sexual healthcare and costs for all those who may be touched by those actions and so forth.
I thought that way about unprotected sex at first, Miz S (this whole post isn't directed at you in particular though, Miz S. Just so I don't come off looking snarky - 'cause I'm not trying to be!), but I do think that it's completely possible for two (or more) people to have unprotected sex and be very aware of what they're doing, and risking. As long as one of the involved parties isn't coaxing someone else into making their sex unprotected, then I fail to see how others can have a problem with it.
If everyone who wants to have protected sex does so very strictly, then where's the problem?
What about the other things? If a friend of yours says that he's overeating because he's never had a girlfriend/boyfriend, for instance, and overeating makes him happy regardless of the fact that it might kill him prematurely, who are we to stop him?
Let me introduce a new wrinkle that someone gave me in another conversation last night: My great-aunt is 81. She's smoked since she was a teen. Most people have stopped telling her to quit, because she's 81, and she doesn't have any problems with it. She knows why she smokes (she's just plain addicted after so long), and she doesn't care. Actually most people I know feel that she should keep smoking, just because at that point in her life, if it's one of the few joys she has, why should she be denied it? I think many people would agree with that sentiment. What's the difference between 81 and 21? Is there a magical age?
Who is anyone else but a given person, to decide what's right for that given person, once they're well enough informed to start making their own decisions?
We all do bad stuff (last night I consumed some alcohol, for example), there's only degrees of badness. Who is to decide what's acceptable, and what will affect other people (in terms of health care costs, etc.)?
[This message has been edited by Dzuunmod (edited 06-09-2002).]
Well, nobody is stopping him. Unless I've missed something, nobody's saying that there should be a Scarleteen police squad going round making sure nobody has unprotected sex or goes on crash diets or uses tanning booths or any other the other things the folk here disaprove of .
You can't force someone to have protected sex (how would you do that, anyway - burst into their bedroom with a gun? ). But it is possible to say "Look, here are the risks, here is the information - what you do is ultimately up to you, but I'm not going to condone it if you take what I think are very stupid risks."
To take an extreme example, I've been in a few situations where people I know via e-mail have been threatening suicide, and I've had to try to talk them out of it. I've always known that (unless I knew their physical location and could potentially alert emergency services) I had no way of physically preventing them, and ultimately it would be their choice. But to stand back in such situations and effectively say "well, if you think that's for the best, then go for it" would have been irresponsible, I think. Saying "No, I think your life is worth living, I know how difficult things are but keep hanging on" can sometimes make a difference - knowing that other people care about whether you live or die can actually affect how someone evaluates their life.
And often the issue in any educational situation is that people aren't properly informed or aren't assessing the risks accurately - too often they're working on the basis of a belief that, say, their partner is too "nice" to have an STD, or that using a condom would inevitably "spoil the moment". I've seen some posts here where posters essentially seemed to be asking for approval, asking for someone to tell them it was "okay" for them not to use a condom or whatever (and often posting again if they didn't like the answer they got the first time). They're not just evaluating the risks and benefits - whether their actions are socially "approved of" or not makes a difference.
quote:If a friend of yours says that he's overeating because he's never had a girlfriend/boyfriend, for instance, and overeating makes him happy regardless of the fact that it might kill him prematurely, who are we to stop him?
Well, I would want to point out to him that never having had a boyfriend/girlfriend doesn't mean that your life is worthless, and that there are plenty of other sources of pleasure that don't put your health at risk.
Just my 2 cents, or whatever the UK currency equivalent is .
I think people should be able to do whatever they want ... provided they know what it is they're doing, AND it doesn't effect me negatively (eg. filling MY lungs w/ smoke or giving an STD)
So i guess you can throw this one in w/ the 'interconnected and interdependant' responses. I think it's everyone's responsibility to protect themselves, and i would see the person giving the STD just as responsible for it as the person receiving it, but if everyone were looking after themselves (being protected), and looking after each other, we wouldn't have to worry about AIDS and STD's so much. Maybe i'm living in a dream world here, but it would be nice if people would consider these types of things.
The smoking issue is a bit different. Breathing is not a choice, where sex is (under normal circumstances). If people want to smoke in their own houses, i don't care, but when they start complaining b/c they can't smoke in restuarants and public places, i have a problem w/ that. That effects me.
What I guess I'm struggling with is the concept of deciding where to draw the line in different cases. The idea of missionary work is repulsive to me (just seems like white people trying to "civilise" other cultures) and I don't know how this differs.
In one case, you've got people who think that if they don't help others, they'll die. In the other, you have people who think that if they don't help others, they'll spend eternity in hell. Seems like the difference is a very fine line.
"Just because you've got a problem with death, it doesn't mean you should bring that problem over here." Versus, "Just because you have a problem with Buddha (or Allah...), doesn't mean you should bring that problem over here."
Seems to me, Dzuun, that you're talking about a whole lot of different things: education, requested and unrequested (which is questionably education at all), advice, solicited and not, and religious prosletizing -- all of which seem like very different things to me.
Especially, I confess, the latter, as missionaries are RARELY invited by the people they attempt to convert, and even when governments allow them, it isn't for conversion as is, but often for fringe benefits. And no, I don't like it either.
But I don't think a friend asking for advice or sharing a suicide wish, or someone coming to ask about disease risks and missionaries all fit so easily together.
And when it all comes down to it, I'm not sure how education and what someone does or doesn't do with that education and the choices they make thereafter really all ties into what you're trying to express here.
But I can say that someone, say, understanding that if they drive drunk they could kill people, should not make it okay in my mind, just because they get that their choices can do bad things. After all, they're not the only ones who suffer those results, and just because they may be the only person ABLE to make a choice to be destructive doesn't mean they should be able to unilaterally assign their poor choices to others.
Of course, sadly, people do it all the time. And it's common as hell. But personally, I don't think that's benefitted us as a culture much.
But Miz S (and once more, the whole post isn't specifically targeting you...), again, I'm only talking about situations where everyone involved is aware that bad things could happen. Anyone who has unprotected sex, in our society, ought to be aware by now what the consequences might be. If they aren't, then I think they're either too young to have sex, or they aren't of our society, frankly.
Driving drunk (unless it's on some ridiculous drunk driving closed circuit) isn't something where everyone who might be affected is a willing participant.
And I don't know that religious proselytizing is necessarily all that different from just plain trying to convince someone that they're doing bad stuff. Advice that's requested is a whole other category, yes, but what's the difference between someone who doesn't want me to drink because it's bad for me, and someone who doesn't want me to drink because their religion (and the religion that they think I should follow) doesn't allow it? Or, if you prefer, think of it in terms of multiple sex partners.
What I'm getting at here, is that society looks down on people who abuse their bodies in various ways, whether it hurts others at the same time or not, and whether the person in question understands what they're doing or not. If I understand that I use drugs as a crutch, and they help me get through difficult times, and my actions are victimless, why should anyone look down on me? The only reason that I can see that it might be that way is that people other than me have a problem with death or that people other than me aren't okay with my actions.
Don't misunderstand me, though, I'm not suggesting that educating people about dangers is a bad thing. Scarleteen helps lots of people understand what they're getting into. There are a lot of myths out there that people need to be woken up to. There are plenty of people out there who need additional sex ed, aside from whatever they get in school and public campaigns. I like what we're all doing here. I just think that if someone truly understands what they're doing and they aren't harming others (at least, they aren't harming others without the consent of those others), they shouldn't be judged for it.
The thing about someone who is killing themselves and enjoying it.......well from my experiance a hell of a lot of the time there not enjoying it, and really need help, education or whatever. You in my oppinion need to judge whether or not the person in question really hates life, because if not do everything you can to stop him waisting his second chances
Posts: 13 | From: England | Registered: Jun 2002
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