‘I don’t care, alcohol is fun’
“But, I think the ban on alcohol is absurd. My decision to consume alcohol is based on a personal choice. I don’t see how society or the state might be affected.”
As a fellow student, Kashif* argued in favour of imbibing, several of my classmates nodded in agreement.
“ My personal choices should not be regulated by the state.”
This is hardly the first time that the concept of personal freedom has clashed with widely accepted norms. I have lost count of the number of times I have been solicited into verbal battles on this subject.
Advocates of this school of thought often believe that no one else should have the right or power to regulate their actions.
Alcohol consumption, drug abuse and even reckless behaviour are explained away by suggesting that these actions do not corrupt the society. I often hear friends says:
“Taking drugs is my problem. I don’t thrust them down anyone’s throats. Why should the law prevent me from doing what I want if I’m not harming anybody?”
This selfish approach to life can lead to trouble.
I went to the airport with a few classmates, one of whom was wearing a sleeveless top as she typically wears to college. The visit was a fiasco. The regular desi crowd behaved as expected.
I murmured to her, politely hinting that she should have changed into something that showed less skin. Her retort was, of course, abrasive :
“Why? Have the Taliban taken over? I‘m going to wear whatever I like.”
All my efforts to impress upon her that different places necessitate different codes of conduct were discounted.
She began to take offence, and pronounced me a fundamentalist on the spot.
Why let yourself off the hook?
This happens quite often – the ban on alcohol challenged in class; the need to abide by traditional norms challenged at the airport.
It seems that for many the formula for satisfaction is simple; use the license of ‘individual liberty’ to bypass every dictate of the state and religion.
Use it to sanction drugs, disgraceful dressing, disregard for polite language, social courtesy and even table manners!
The question is: where do we draw the line? How far can people exploit individualism?
The fact is that corrupt individuals corrupt the society.
I now have to think twice before expressing my distaste for drugs. Because you can’t ‘judge’ people anymore and you can’t ‘meddle in their personal affairs.
You are expected to just sit and mind your own business. And if you don’t, you’ll be accused of conspiring with the Taliban and consequently get exported to Guantanamo.
*Name has been changed.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.