Buying into Concept of Freedom of Choice

By Jason Menard

The Sunday Shopping debate in Nova Scotia is so 15 years ago – well, at least that’s the case for those of us in Ontario. Unfortunately, after all this time, it still appears that people are unwilling to buy into the concept of freedom of choice.

Don’t let anybody fool you – the Sunday Shopping debate has nothing to do with promoting the family or mandating a day of rest for harried workers. It’s all about religion. Plain and simple.

More specifically, it’s about one particular religion, Christianity, attempting to assert control over something that it should truly have no control over. After all, we’re only discussing the evils of shopping on the Christian Sabbath, not the Jewish Shabbat now, aren’t we?

Allegedly Canada is a secular society – not that the Church would mind if that wasn’t the case. And if we are secular by nature, then religious holidays and observances have no place in the defining of how and when we live our lives or buy milk.

But beyond what side of the debate you are on in terms of religion, the fact that there is even a debate at all obscures the fact that this is just another example of religion refusing to allow people to exercise the ability to choose to lead the life they want. Instead the Church is attempting to squeeze its fist tighter around a rapidly dispersing flock – and the problem with that mentality is that the more one squeezes, the more likely people will slip through the fingers.

The Church, in its zeal to mandate that everyone – regardless of whether or not they’re Christian – follows its rules are happily advocating restricting people’s rights to personal choice. And, in fighting so hard against a world that it can’t abide, the Church is missing the most effective tactic in the fight against perceived evil.

Personal choice.

The very thing they’re trying to restrict is the one thing that could be its salvation. But by fighting so hard against the concept, not only is the Church fighting a battle it can’t win – it’s running the risk of alienating not just those who are spiritually curious, but also those already within the congregations of Canada.

Religious or not, we all have the ability to chose. And, when it comes to deciding what’s good and bad for the masses, none of us are ever going to be right. However, when it comes to choosing what’s good and bad for ourselves… well, then there’s no better authority than Numero Uno!

Find a TV show offensive? Turn it off. Believe that pornography is evil? Don’t rent it and stay out of the sex shops. You find that classic literature is crossing the line of decency? Put down the match and leave the book on the shelf.

Simply put, there is no better filter in the world than personal choice. Nobody is forcing anyone else to do anything they don’t want. There is no Atheist Army rousing you out of your sleep to drag you to Wal-Mart. Nor is there anyone forcing you to keep your eyes glued to Fear Factor over a bowl of Spaghetti-Os.

We can make our own choices. If you think that your God doesn’t want you to go shopping on Sundays, then by all means stay at home, go to Church, or do anything else. But, as you’re enjoying the freedom to choose how you live your life, ensure that you allow others to engage in that same freedom.

For many people, Sunday shopping is a necessity considering the hectic lives many of us lead. With school, work, family time in the evenings, activities, and the like, often Sunday is the best day to go shopping. And for others, working on Sunday is a blessing – no pun intended. Those on fixed incomes, students, and other casual labourers all benefit from the fact that the wheels of commerce continue to spin on Sundays.

As well, there’s really no one-size-fits-all approach to life, now, is there? Not everyone works 9-5 between Monday and Friday. There are people that work shifts, those with schedule challenges, those with a myriad host of other reasons as to why a “traditional” lifestyle does not apply.

Should these people, for whom a day of rest on Sunday doesn’t work, be subjected to one based upon one group’s religious beliefs?

The Nova Scotia Sunday Shopping debate just proves again that nobody should be forced to do anything – anything except being forced to respect each other’s right to live the life we want, free of harassment, judgment, and scorn.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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