When Choice No Longer Becomes a Choice

In Opinion, Reaching A Higher Level by Marelise Prinsloo Jacob

Free will. It’s something we’re all supposed to have. God himself gave us this gift, or so they say. What, then, happens when others believe you are not entitled to it? You do not comprehend it and so will not be able to use it properly. So what is free will? Is it the right to choose between good and evil, right and wrong, or is it just – the right to choose?

Apparently when one is a little less normal than everyone else, one’s right to choose also becomes a little less than everyone else’s. And so obviously, when one is very less normal, that right seems to just disappear into thin air. Why would that be the case? Why do some assign themselves the right to take away the right to choose from others? The question is where does concerned protection end and obsessive over-protection begin?

In my country, South Africa, there was recently a case in the media illustrating this question. From afar, it was a couple getting married, spontaneously eloping, to the dismay of all the parents. Very romantic, one would think. But from a closer view, the situation becomes much more complicated, with two very distinct sides to the story. The bride – mentally handicapped after an accident, however still quite attractive, and the groom – the man who fell in love with her years after the accident already happened. The problem – the bride received a substantial amount of money from the Road Accident Fund, giving her apparently over-protective mother enough reason to doubt the grooms’ sincerity.

The story goes like this. A long time ago the girl, who in her teenage years was a beautiful model, got into a car accident while still very young, cutting her career and future short. Little hope was given to the girls’ parents, but the mother stood strong.

The girl regained consciousness and from then on, the mother spent all of her energy trying to get the girl back to some sort of state which would ensure her any sort of future. After years of home nursing, the girl, now a young woman, did appear normal, however she would always have brain damage, including short-term memory loss. Enter the groom.

A man who started working for the father, met the young woman and after a while, started showing interest. The parents indulged this man’s interest, but when marriage was eventually discussed, they were no longer amused. The story only hit the papers after the two young people eloped, first putting the groom in a slightly bad light (remember the fund).

But when the story received more coverage, it became clear, to this writer at least, that the young woman was truly in love with her man, and being smothered at home by a mother who believed the mother, and only she, knew what was best for her disabled daughter.

Photographs in the papers showed a beaming young woman with her husband, one had to first read the article to discover the woman had any disabilities. The end of their saga has not yet been completed; one can only hope it will be a happy end. The parents want the marriage annulled, the couple just wants to be left alone.

In this case the woman had a strong minded man by her side, but in many other cases, the woman would not have such a romantic escape. So again I ask where does free will end? An