This afternoon we had to stop by the local Safeway to pick up a few last minute ingredients for tonight’s dinner. After we’d made our purchases, we went out to our car. It was 91 degrees here at 3 p.m. in Steamboat, so we rolled down the windows on the FJ, loaded ourselves and our purchases in our car, and cranked the air conditioning. Hubby put the car into reverse and just as we were about to back out of our parking spot, a gentleman in his mid-50s walked by the front of our car and yelled at us to turn it off. Presumably, he thought we were hanging out in our car with the engine idling, wasting gas and destroying the ozone layer. Clearly he had not seen us enter the vehicle not one minute before. Because he was at the front of our car, he was obviously not aware that our reverse lights were on. He did not know that we share his concern for the environment and that hubby parks his car at the light rail station so he can take public transportation into work in Denver five days a week. He simply judged us in our idling SUV without knowing what was going on.
I thought about this interaction for a couple hours after it happened. I was annoyed. I didn’t in the least like this man’s insinuation that we are planet wreckers. We recycle. We use cloth bags at the grocery store more often than not. We try to conserve water and energy. For heaven’s sake…we’ve been sleeping in the basement for weeks now because it allows us to keep our air conditioning set to 80 degrees all day. We may not be the most environmentally friendly family in America, but we do try. The more I reflected on it, though, the more I realized that what bothered me about this man’s comment was the fact that he thought he should comment in the first place. Who had died and made him the boss of how much time I’m allowed in my car before I drive off with my groceries?
I’m beginning to believe the basic problem with most Americans today is that we’ve lost the idea that individual freedoms apply to all individuals. Now, I am not currently a gun owner nor have I ever owned a gun. But, I do believe that all Americans are entitled to their rights, whether or not I agree with them. I would never go up to a gun owner (and, trust me, I know a lot of them) and tell them that their Second Amendment right to bear arms is wrong. It’s not my thing, but it doesn’t have to be. Just as they’re free to own a gun, I’m free not to. Even after the murders in the movie theater in my home state today, I still won’t speak out against gun ownership. It’s not my thing, but I don’t believe for one minute that removing gun ownership rights would have stopped this tragedy. Deranged individuals will find a way to harm others, legal gun rights or not.
I wish people would be a bit more tolerant and accepting of other people’s rights to live life their own way. If you don’t agree with how they’re living, fine. Keep it to yourself. If you’re not in favor of gay marriage, don’t marry a same sex partner. If you’re opposed to abortion, don’t have one. If you’re anti-gun, don’t carry one. If you’re not fond of fur, don’t throw paint on someone else’s coat. It doesn’t matter if you think someone is wrong or misguided for the things they think. You don’t have to agree with them. You just have to accept that they deserve the same common decency that you do, the freedom to live their life according to their own ideas.
We spend too much time playing judge and jury over the lives of others when what other people do is honestly none of our business. If we Americans would focus on our own lives, our own families, our own choices, and our own bodies, we’d probably get along a lot better. If we understood that our way might not be the only or best way, we might be able to solve some of the bigger problems in this country. Instead of yelling at someone because you believe they’re wrong, choose to be quiet. Accept that you don’t necessarily know what is best for someone else and mind your own business.