There seems to be nothing in common with a wallet, a plant and a sticker. Until you find out what the story is. I will tell you more about these things and why they are related.
I wrote a Dutch version of this blog, but I felt the need to share it with a broader audience.
Did someone in my family remove the sticker on our front door? I asked my better-half, my son and my daughter if they decided to pull off the sticker that was on the front door. This sticker was there since 2019. They looked sheepishly. What was I talking about? What sticker?
This was a sticker I put on the door in October 2019. All because an anti-abortion group/organisation planned to send people an (unsolicited) leaflet about why abortion is/was so bad. The Dutch organisation Humanistisch Verbond (Humanistic Association Netherlands) offered stickers you could put on your front door and this would prevent the distributors of the folder to put it in your mailbox. I decided to order this sticker. According to me (this is an opinion), it’s up to everyone to decide about abortion. Especially women. This is something that was made possible through the democratic process. This is a right.
Yes, you may not agree with this. That’s something that’s allowed or possible in the country I live in (The Netherlands). That’s one of the advantages of living in this country. This does not include imposing an opinion. That’s why I don’t send out unsolicited leaflets with reasons not to eat meat.
I didn’t receive the leaflet. I was happy about this.
The sticker was still on the door, even though this was something that took place in late 2019. Until someone decided to remove this sticker. That’s something that does something to me. You’re touching my belongings.
What has this to do with a plant and a sticker?
Simple. It’s my wallet that was stolen years ago. It wasn’t the money that was in it that made me angry. It was because someone stole my belongings.
That plant. Well, that’s a different and somewhat bizarre story. It didn’t cost me much. I don’t even remember what type of plant it was. It was removed from my front yard. It was the idea behind this that made me angry. The idea that someone stole something from me. Again, something that belonged to me.
What’s yours is not from anyone else. This is a moralistic message, but is that weird? I don’t think so.
Today I received a new sticker. I asked for a new one and the Humanistisch Verbond sent me a new one. It’s more than just this sticker. It’s the freedom to use this sticker on my front door. It’s not like I put it on public property. I can and may in total freedom put a sticker on my front door as long as it’s not hurtful, insulting, discriminating or racist. This message isn’t. It’s simply a reply to something others wanted to send me, unsolicited. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to do this?
Those who are opposed to abortion can say the same. This is right but to a certain limit. It’s ok to put a sticker on your front door. But unsolicited messages, I don’t think that’s ok. It’s not a problem if you want to share your message. There are other ways than to enforce your opinion on others. Especially when it concerns your home. That is your home. Not someone else’s house.
Let’s take a moment to think about something else. Something more current or topical. The discussion about all the measures needed to curb COVID-19 contamination. Yes, you might not agree with that. It’s something different when you aggressively propagate your feelings. Unfortunately, this has happened in the past few weeks. People who worked in public services were often insulted, verbally abused and also physically abused. These people were and are just doing their jobs. Using violence is never an option or allowed. It’s stepping into someone’s personal space and doing something to prevent the other from doing their job.
No, I’m not comparing the removal of the sticker with these kinds of actions. I consider this a deed of disallowing someone to use freedom of speech. The removal of this sticker is not even close to using violence. But in a way, it’s about wanting to enforce your opinion (it’s still an opinion, not a fact) on others. It was just the same as stealing my wallet or plant. Stepping into my personal space and take something that isn’t yours.
If you have a good idea, share it with the rest of the world. Not everyone might agree with your idea. Don’t enforce it. Not everyone is waiting for radical thoughts. One day it can be anti-abortion, the other day it’s pseudoscience about COVID-19.