You Are Free to Live Your Life the Way You Want To – Or Are You?

You Are Free to Live Your Life the Way You Want To ... except when you are sick
Photo by CC user erix on Flickr

The funny thing is that ‘freedom’ is one of those words that is relative to what you are talking about and what one person considers to be ‘free’ the next person may see as being anything but. In this country there is an old saying that “I can do whatever I want. I am free and 21.” Well, that really isn’t the case and never has been, really – unless of course you don’t ever accept the consequences for what you have done or are about to do. This is one of the reasons why we require so many people to study the Master of Public Health program. With too few people really paying attention to the ramifications of what they are doing, there is always some public health crisis to be dealt with. So are you free? Here is some food for thought.

Communicable Diseases

Whenever the latest scare of a pandemic hits there are too few people who take it upon themselves to stay home when they come down with flu-like symptoms. The only way to stop the spread of contagions effectively is to keep them at home – the sufferer and the contagion that is! Imagine you, as a person studying for your degree in public health. If you took conventional classes and attended the college campus, then you’d need to stay home if you came down with what appeared to be the flu so you didn’t pass it around campus.

However, since you are probably studying a Master of Public Health online program, you wouldn’t have this concern. The point is, those who are sick with something that is communicable should consider what the next person would do if they came down with the illness. Babies and old people could die. Yes, you are free to choose whether or not to stay home but are those people free from your ill-placed decision to take your germs in public? Not so much.

HIV and STDs

Then, what about HIV and STDs of all kinds? In the 60s it was all about ‘Free Love’ and sleeping with whoever struck your fancy. Well, times probably haven’t changed much but is that ‘free love’ really free? Having sexual relations with multiple partners puts everyone at greater risk for these potentially fatal diseases and so in reality, you may not be as free as you thought you were.

Teen Pregnancy

Teen pregnancies seem to be slowing down to some extent but they are still a consequence of failing to act responsibly. While kids have more liberty in their lives than at any time in the past, they are not free from the consequences of unprotected sex. Yes, they may be free to run around town and in that respect, free to choose whether or not to have sex, but what happens if the girl becomes pregnant? She may be free to abort the baby but is she free from any kind of consequence at all? It’s a terrible decision for anyone to face so all that ‘freedom’ isn’t really free, is it? There is always a price to pay.

No matter where you stand on the ethics of these very real public health issues, you have to admit that there are always consequences for everything you do. Simply by asserting your freedom to act in a certain way doesn’t necessarily mean you are free from the consequences of your behavior. So again, the question – you are free to live your life the way you want to but does this mean you are really free? You decide.

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