I recently read a very interesting book The Bookseller of Kabul written by Åsne Seierstad. The book provides a snapshot of an Afghan family and their daily lives. From a Western point of view the patriarchal society and the oppression of both women and men is probably shocking, but for those people it is a way of life.

The book raised an interesting question for me. The question does not only cover large issues such as making war against another country with a different culture. Think about smaller issues such as abortions, arranged marriages, or parents putting pressure on children to follow particular careers. Or how about aid workers bringing relief to countries where there is famine and dis-ease, but not being accepted by the local people? And should female circumcision be stopped? Is it right for a parent to refuse blood transfusions for a critically ill child? Should people be prevented from choosing euthanasia or assisted suicide?

Ok, I agree, none of these issues are small. But all of them raise the same question for me. If we belief in free will and that people make their choices before they enter into this world, surely those people chose their lives here on this earth and it is not for me as an individual to interfere and force my choices upon them? Or am I supposed to step in and help them out of their ignorance? Where do we draw the line in terms of getting involved personally?

Many people would say that for adults that are in a position to stand up for themselves it makes sense to leave them alone to live their destiny, but what about vulnerable adults and children?

We need to understand that people are mature souls when they come into this world. A baby might be vulnerable, but the soul of that baby is probably a soul that chose to incarnate into this life. In that sense anything that happens to babies are a part of their personal blueprint. What happens to the baby happens for a reason, and that reason involves for example the parents, the grandparents and the medical staff that are involved with a sick child.

For example, a baby is born with a defective heart and the life expectation of the baby is not very long, unless the parents authorise the medical staff to perform a potentially dangerous operation that might save the life of the baby. But what if that baby, in other words that soul, chose to incarnate with that medical condition in agreement with the parents and the medical staff? What if the parents incarnated because they had to have the experience of making decisions about the lives of other people?

I once heard about a couple that chose to terminate their first pregnancy because the foetus had a serious genetic defect that would have ensured a short and very painful life for the baby. Everybody was in agreement that the couple took the right decision.

There was much joy when they had a second pregnancy. All the relevant tests were done to ensure that this time round the baby would be healthy, and all the test results looked good. When the baby was born, it was healthy – or so it seemed until about six months later when a rare dis-ease was diagnosed. The parents had to decide whether to provide very expensive medical care that would only extend the pain and misery of the baby, or whether to limit the medical care and spend as much loving time as possible with the baby before it would pass on.

Now is that bad luck or what? I do not think so. In this instance I believe that the issue for both the parents and medical staff was to experience the decision over life and death in this dimension. If for example a judge and a court of law had to step in and make this decision, there would probably have been another little soul that would have forced the parents and medical staff into the same situation until they eventually experienced the gratitude of understanding what they had to learn from this situation.

In this book, The Bookseller of Kabul, one of the characters is a young woman who is desperate to do something with her life other than live the Cinderella existence that her male relatives and her culture expected of her. She enrolled for classes to improve her English and to her horror then discovered that the classes were open to men as well.

This was after the Taliban had been ousted and when it was acceptable again for men and women to be in the same room, even though still with specific conditions. For this young girl the thought of being in a room with men that were not her relatives were so abhorrent that she never returned to the lectures. You can guess what her future held for her career-wise.

Would she have changed her mind if there was another war that resulted in more cultural changes and getting more people killed? Probably not. What if she was supposed to incarnate so that she could have the experience of being oppressed as a woman because in a different life she was the oppressor? What if she chose to have that experience because she had to accept her feminine energy which she rebelled against? What if she had actually accepted her own feminine energy but she incarnated to learn to accept and exercise her male energy? And what if I incarnated so that I could help such women to gain some insight and stop the cycle of abuse, but I chose not to do anything about it because I do not support war?

And that brings me to the core question – for me at least. Is my role to step back and respect the lives and choices of others, even when I see them suffer as a result of these choices? Or is my role to step in and show empathy and help those that are weaker than I am? Should I contribute to a charity that collects money to provide food to a faceless, nameless victim of famine somewhere in Africa? Or should I make it my personal mission to give handouts of food to people that are hungry, even though I do not know them? Or should I not bother about strangers but rather reach out to the people I know personally that obviously need a hand up? Or should I not reach out to anyone and simply focus on my own spiritual awareness, because after all I incarnated to get closer to perfection?

The first commandment in the Bible teaches us that we are not allowed to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. To me that means I am not entitled to judge anyone else, because there is no such thing as right or wrong. And the question of right or wrong is never more prominent than when it involves life and death, such as decisions on war, abortions, the death penalty, euthanasia, suicide, murder and so on.

I think I will need to incarnate a few more times before I have the answers to any of these questions.

Author's Bio: 

Elsabe Smit is the author of the blog mypurpleblog.com, Spiritual interpretations of everyday life.