But in whose judgment is ANY fact about you something to hide? Consider something that happened to my family when I was in fifth grade. My dad's family was very curious about my father's religious beliefs: did he go to mass every week? Ever? What was he teaching me about Catholicism? About religion? What went on at that Unitarian church he attended? The subject of my dad's religious beliefs and behavior was his own business--he thought--and his mother and sisters knew not to discuss it with him. He had fought for his privacy, even choosing to move to my mother's home town, which had no Catholic church.
So one day my fifth grade teacher, Mr. M--new to the district, and youngish--called me up in front of the class and asked me pointed questions about exactly these things. It was not lost on me that he didn't ask anyone else questions that even a nine-year-old found intrusive. I told my parents about it that evening, and my mom teased my dad, "Well, Vincent, I guess they just can't leave you alone."
It seems that Mr. M was a good friend of one of my dad's sisters. All these good Catholics believed that an individual's salvation is everyone's business. My aunt--Mr. M's friend--decided just what the McLaughlin family "needed" to know. Ultimately, Mr.M got a lesson he hadn't expected, that is--life in the secular world is nothing like life in an Irish Catholic community: people expect their opinions to be private. The right of a nine-year-old not to be asked personal questions--during class time or any other time--was unknown.
This incident opened a crack in my parents' relationship that never mended. They had agreed on their shared right to privacy and my mother's family would never have dreamed of intruding like this. It was decades before there was any mending at all between my mother and her in-laws.
There was, in fact, a sequel to this. Mr.M apologized, and in fact met with my parents a couple times to discuss what had happened. Apparently, he had had no idea people would find such questions intrusive; if he intended to continue working in the public schools he understood he could not be an enforcement arm of the Catholic church. Fast forward a decade or so. Mr.M was working in a different district, and applied to be a principal in our district. My mother had been elected to our local school board and was on the committee that had to decide about his application. During his interview with the committee, Mr. M brought up the incident and confessed his ignorance upon entering the job market about the secular concept of privacy--and how he'd learned. He elaborated a bit on how it influenced his attitude toward managing a public school. My mom thought he would have been an admirable addition to the district's faculty and voted for him, but alas, he got a better-paying job closer to his home. I'm not sure when she forgave her in-laws, if ever.