There’s a small local bookstore in my neighborhood. I like books. I like supporting the town. So I shop at this bookstore.
The books are used. Sometimes I have to settle for Olivia Saves the Circus instead of the original Olivia, but they’re both cute, they cost less than three dollars and I’m giving my money to members of my community, rather than some faceless chain store.
Once when I was looking at books and Magoo went on a crazy 2-year-old rampage, one of the store owners brought over some toys and played with him until I was ready to check out.
They have an unlisted phone number and no computer. They take cash or checks only. They keep an index card listing of the books you’d like to purchase so that if a copy comes in, they can give you a call. The store smells like my grandma’s basement, not really in a good way. I love this bookstore.
Then a couple of days ago a friend who recently moved to the area said, “I know you like that bookstore but I just don’t feel comfortable going in there with my 3 kids. They have a big bumper sticker right on the door that says ”˜Reproductive Responsibility — 2 is Enough!’”
I was dumbstruck. Nah! She must be mistaken. I’ve been in there tons of times and I’ve never seen that. She was pretty sure she’d seen it. So I took a peek the next time I was driving by. Sure enough, right at eye level, just above the OPEN sign is a good sized sign proclaiming that I should stop having children to save the planet.
I came home really upset. What right do they have to tell me how many kids I should have? Who are they to judge the reproductive choices of everyone on the planet? I was offended and I told Dan that I simply wouldn’t shop there anymore.
As usual, he remained calm despite my 28-year-old rampage and waited for me to join him in his happy place. Then he said something about how we choose not to live in a cave somewhere because we want to be part of a community and learn to get along with people who think and believe differently than we do. The owners of the bookstore are kind people and they’re our neighbors.
So now I’d at least like to talk to them about the sign. But what do I say?
First I want to ask them to explain their position. Then I want to explain mine.
I have the right to choose how many children my family can love, nurture and provide for. I have a religious belief that God created the earth with resources enough and to spare and that having and lovingly raising children is a spiritually fulfilling and earth-building endeavor. If we’re running out of resources, then we should be wiser about how we use them, not be controlling how many of us get to use them. If all the caring and educated people in the world start limiting their offspring in order to save the planet, won’t the very people who are the least well-equipped to care for and teach children become the ones who are having the most of them?
I feel like I need to say something if I’m gonna keep shopping there, especially if we decide to have another baby. Putting my personal feelings and religious beliefs aside, I just don’t think it’s their right to judge anyone else for their decision. I also don’t think it’s appropriate to place a sign like that prominently at the entry to your place of business.