I had heard from a neighbor about the "ReStores" ran by the charitable organization Habitat for Humanity where they sell building materials that have been donated in order to raise funds for their mission of building homes for people in need.
I needed some supplies, including an exterior door and a window, so I went with the family, first to one of these stores in the historic district of Collinsville, about 10 miles away, and then to a larger store of theirs in the Central West End district of St. Louis, just blocks from St. Louis University.
I did find a good deal of what I needed, for a rather reasonable price, and it was good to know that the money was going to a good organization (The St. Louis store says that their chapter has built 325 homes in the city of St. Louis), but there was something that happened that rather annoyed me when I was there.
As usual, my mom and dad were talking to the cashier about rebuilding the house, and how there won’t be a mortgage on it, since I paid cash for it (though I owe her money for some of the rebuilding of it), and most people find it incredible that I saved up that much money. The cashier, though, said something that really got to me: “you have a house, then next will be kids, right?”. My mom agreed, but said one of her favorite phrases “…but there needs be a good, godly wife first”.
Never mind that awful “good godly wife” comment, but why does everyone feel they have the right to make decisions for my life, but I don’t? Why do people have such expectations for me to follow the normal American formula for life? Get a solid job, get a house, get married (spouse must be opposite gender of course!), and have 3 or 4 kids.
I don’t want that. I’m following half of the formula so far. I have a solid job and the house, I might get married, I don’t know, I at least want a long term relationship with a woman, but I sure don’t want kids. I couldn’t handle it, I know I couldn’t. I need medication just to make everyday life somewhat bearable, I know I couldn’t handle the stress and responsibility of being a father, and I don’t feel like I should have to explain it all to people all the time, because it isn’t any of their damn business (and people attach such a stigma to mental illness anyway, which isn’t right).
I just don’t understand people. Why do they have such a need to follow a predetermined set of rules, written and unwritten of how to run their lives, from the important to the mundane? Why do they have such a need to “fit in”, and feel like they are a part of the crowd, to the point that they lose all sense of independence and individuality? Why do they feel the need to pressure everyone else to do the same? I feel like I’m not watching people go about their daily lives but I’m seeing a pack of herd animals all following the crowd, all doing the same thing. There’s slight difference between them, but in the end, they won’t stray from the formula.
Are you gay/bisexual/transgender? Are you polyamorous? Do you have a mental illness? Do you not want to get married/have a longtime partner? Are you atheist/agnostic? (The list goes on and on). That’s bad! You’re not following the herd! (Even if it’s impossible for you in some circumstances).
I don’t project such expectations on other people, I’m kind of averse to that now, after spending so much of my life dedicated to a philosophy that feels it has the right to dictate, even by force of law if it feels necessary, how to live their lives, I can’t bear to do that to people. Let people live their lives how they wish, let them be who they want to be, or who they were born to be, as long their lives don’t cause harm to others.
I just don’t understand people. I understand societies a little better than my fictional namesake, but I still don’t really get why people act the way they do.
Here’s a classic example of the fictional Sheldon over thinking traditional societal customs, I understand it better than him, though I do have the tendency to go off on a tangent about something, especially facts that people don’t really care about:
You haven’t given me a gift, you’ve given me an obligation! :)
I understand that some rules in society are necessary for a functioning society, especially rules regulating activities and actions that can be dangerous if not properly done (driving for example), or prohibiting actions that violate the rights of others to live a peaceful life (laws against acts of violence and theft, as well as anti-discrimination laws), but I don’t understand why societies by either custom, or law have to go beyond that, and make decisions for other people lives, and pressure or even make outcasts of people who step outside of such arbitrary boundaries.
If you are tired of reading my ramblings about this, check out a related post by one of my favorite bloggers, Lana Hope, entitled, How Social Constructions Foster Bigotry. She has a unique perspective on cultures because of her life story. She grew up in a family who were followers of IFB cult leader Bill Gothard, living in that closed subculture, then ended up rejecting fundamentalism, and became a missionary to