I recently read a book called Nothing But Blue, by Lisa Jahn-Clough (one of my professors at Rowan University). It’s about a lost girl taking a journey where she meets a number of people who live “unorthodox” lives. Train hoppers, hippies, artists, and others who don’t conform to society’s norms. The main character, Blue, is a bit unorthodox herself. One of the book’s memorable scenes tells how she painted forest scenes on her bedroom walls, then imagined little gnomes living among the trees, so she added mushroom houses for them.
I was never allowed to paint my walls. My mom had the final say in everything that went on in the house. When we were teenagers, my sister wanted to paint her bedroom black (because, teenagers). My mom refused. She said it would make the room too dark and dreary. They argued about it for awhile, and eventually my mom agreed to let my sister paint one wall black. The other three had to stay nice, bland, conformist white.
Except, even though my mom might have the “right” to make this decision since she owned the house, in reality, she had no reason to do it. She never went into that room. It was my sister’s room, where my sister should have had privacy and the ability to make her own decisions. And while the color of your walls might not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, this is just one small example of the things parents try to control. I’ve known people whose parents forced them to go to the college the parents wanted, take the jobs the parents wanted, or plan the wedding the parents wanted. Even though they aren’t the ones going to that school, working that job, or getting married in that wedding.
Our society, oftentimes, supports this behavior. We seem to think that people in authority have some right to tell others how to live their lives. And that’s wrong.
Because it leads to churches trying to tell gay and lesbian couples that they can’t marry who they want, even when it’s none of their business.
Because it leads to senators trying to pass laws banning transgender individuals from using the bathroom for their identified gender, even when it’s none of their business.
Because it leads to people trying to tell others how they can live their lives, and that’s just wrong. You don’t have any right to tell someone else what color to paint their bedroom unless you’re the one sleeping in that bedroom with them. And you don’t have any right to tell someone about anything else they can or can’t do in that bedroom, because you’re not the one in there with them.
So next time you think about trying to tell someone else how to live their lives, just remember: they don’t have to have one black wall just because you said so.
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