Choice: A Mental Magazine Editorial

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Denying people’s right to make the choice about their own lives can have serious consequences. Not only for physical but mental health as well. 

As a result, when we lose the right to make choices about something that personally affects us, we lose a sense of control. Feeling out of control can be a major causal factor in a range of mental health conditions.

Choice: who knows best?

We live in truly extraordinary times. So many rights, hard won over many years are now under threat from a privileged minority. 

Whether it is limiting women’s reproductive rights, access to services to those within the trans community, the right to asylum or simply the right to vote. The ability for people to make choices about how they live their own lives is being slowly but steadily being eroded. It is those with the least power and the quietest voices that are at the sharp end of this onslaught. So, left unchecked, more and more people in society are at risk. This is extremely worrying. And it is likely to have far reaching consequences. Not just for the rights currently under threat but many others in the future. Therefore this future threat adds to the already massive mental burden of those minorities affected. The ‘knock on effect can be enormous in terms of harm to mental health.

Many of those in power are imposing their specific views of morality on others without due care or concern. Using their control to enforce restrictions and relying on the impassivity of the majority to allow it to happen. 

Rather than making life more difficult, those who hold power should make the lives of those in need easier. Yet this is not the case. They just add more barriers. People have a fundamental right to make their own choices. Those affected should be the ones that any dialogue or consultation begins and ends with? 

The future of choice

The statement above should be obvious but the fact that it is not says so much about those making these decisions. They seem trapped in the past. They are unwilling to accept that their ideal of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable does not have a place in the modern world. Times have changed, attitudes have changed, understanding has changed. Trying to make everyone fit into ‘one size fits all box’ is an impossible task. One doomed to fail. In a world so rich in diversity, conformity should not be allowed to hold sway over choice. Yet at what cost will these flawed attitudes toward conformity and what is right, be over time.

The influence of these decisions is likely to last for years to come. And the cost is likely to be huge, for so many reasons including its toll on mental wellbeing. The rights that they curtail, so hard fought for and so precious will unfortunately take just as much effort to win them back, if not more. This is a challenge of course. Yet the world simply cannot bow in the face of such intolerance. For that is what those in authority want, part of their idea of conformity is aquencence. That cannot be an option. 

Fear

It is fear that principally drives this type of intolerance. Fear of choice. Fear of difference. They fear losing control. And fear that in time it will be obvious that far from those of the majority their views are of an embittered minority. They are scared that their repression and the toxic brand of inclusion they promote will catch up with them and they will pay dearly for its imposition. These fears are more likely than not baseless. They are driven by ignorance and a desire for exclusivity that seemingly only this type of privileged and prejudiced cabal would ever desire.

It is only this thin veneer of unearned privilege and power that separates those in authority from any other minority. It is this power, that gives them the almost comical ‘right’ to act in ways that if witnessed in another minority, one lacking in power of influence would be condemned to the utmost. The levels of hypocrisy seen are quite frankly unbelievable, absurd even. Calling this out is essential.

Toxic 

And so it is that those with the least who have to bear witness to this bizarre yet  toxic existential ‘psycho drama’ being played out by those who have the most. And in turn pay the largest price for it, especially with their mental health. They get away with it because the majority stand by and collectively shrugs it’s shoulders. This needs to stop. Maybe the latest news from the US in relation to abortion rights will be the tipping point? Finally opening the eyes of the majority? One can only hope so. For it is the majority who really has the power to change things. Those standing up for the rights of the underprivileged have a key role to play in changing both hearts and minds of this majority.   

We at this magazine stand with all those anywhere across the world whose rights are under threat.

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