In an age where children are raised with participation trophies, a mentality that people should be forced to like others has developed. If a straight, cisgender male does not want to date a transgender female, he is deemed as transphobic. The same applies to a straight, cisgender female who does not want to date a transgender male.
The idea a person is evil for choosing not to associate with you is ridiculous and goes against the laws of nature. In nature, we often see an animal choose which pack they wish to be a part of, most often choosing those most similar to them. We also often see animals being rejected by packs. Does that rejection make those other animals evil? Absolutely not. By the laws of nature, we have a right to association.
When the United States decides not to help or be allied with a particular country it is justified by the right to and from association. Countries do not have to take our help, and we do not have to give it. When you decide you want to befriend a classmate and you want to share notes, that classmate has the right to accept or reject your proposal. If you want to date someone you find worthy of your attention, that person has the right to accept or reject a relationship. Consent has to come from both parties in order to associate with a person.
That being said, we live in a society of “rape culture,” yet at the same time tells someone they are a bigot for not wanting to date a transgender person, or told they are fat shaming for not wanting to date someone larger than them. Rape occurs when there is no clear consent from both parties. If you are forcing a person to associate with someone they do not consent to associating with, that sounds like a perpetuation of rape culture.
Our generation is one that was inaccurately told that we could be whatever we wanted to be, without also being told to put work and effort in. We got trophies for participating and were told we deserved the universe and more. The cold, hard truth is we were misled. People have to work for what they want. People do not obtain jobs without the proper experience and qualifications, and do not pass classes they do not understand without putting in the effort to study and work with professors.
Everyone has the right to association. I call on readers to understand this the next time they are rejected—whether it be from a job, a significant other or a group of friends—they have the right to decide they do not want you around them. Rather than calling these people bigots, jerks, and all the other names that label a person as evil, consider why they made their decision. Use it as an opportunity for growth. When an animal is rejected by a pack, it usually has something to do with the strength, speed or other health issue the rejected animal has. Reflect on yourself and figure out where you can grow.
Whether you decide to use rejection from a person as an opportunity for growth is your decision, but never forget: everyone has a right to choose who they associate with. Exercising that right does not make them evil.
-Nellie Perry is a journalism sophomore.