Respecting Privacy

There is an episode of Frasier where he has to go inside Daphne's room to fetch something that belongs to him.  She is not home and he enters her room and idle curiosity overtakes him.  He retrieves his book but is soon looking at all her knick-knacks, reading the labels on her prescriptions and so on.  She walks in and catches him, and after a series of events, twice where he ends up repeating this same disgraceful act, she threatens to quit and move out.  Frasier ends up buying her a car to demonstrate his remorse.

Going through other people's things is shameful.  Especially when multiple adults are living in the same home together.  If you live with another adult and feel the need to snoop through their belongings, no doubt as what you see as a well-intentioned concern for them, then you have trust issues that go far beyond anything that can be resolved by snooping.  Whether you find something or nothing, the cancerous distrust that exists will remain.

My sister and her husband love to travel, and they also have pets.  I am frequently trusted with the responsibility of taking care of their pets while they are out of town as they live very nearby.  They actually do have other, closeby relatives as well, but they have chosen me to place their trust in because they know that I will respect their privacy.  I respect it because I love them, but also because my own character deeply values personal property.  How much more egregious to have your loved ones snooping through your personal property than the government?!

When I am in my sister's home, I feed and play with her pets, and with her permission, I occasionally watch TV.  If I am there for an extended period of time in order to allow the pets additional playtime and socializing, I may order food and whatnot, but I make no assumptions about their belongings.  I bring their mail in, but I do not even flip through it to see what they are getting.  Once, she called me and asked me to go into her bedroom to find something and I felt very awkward going in there.  The master bedroom of a homeowner is their sanctuary.  That is the last place I want to find myself!

Even in my own home, I have never gone through my husband's things.  We have separate joint bank accounts, but I have never accessed his, nor he mine.  We never open each other's mail (except admittedly this one time I thought it said my name and I opened it and it was a Christmas gift he ordered for me and I felt so bad!).  He has his own collections, friends, and hobbies that he spends his time on and I never snoop through it.  I cannot imagine his disappointment in me if he were to discover that I didn't respect his privacy.  Every person, even married people, are entitled to their own space and the respect of their own privacy.

If I invited someone into my home and discovered they were snooping through my belongings, they would no longer be welcome there, regardless of their relationship to me.  Some say, "well, I have nothing to hide."  That doesn't matter.  It is the principle.  As adults, we have the right to expect and demand the respect of our privacy, especially from the people we love.

"If you read someone else's diary, you get what you deserve." - David Sedaris