Things are a mess in our country/world right now. I guess our parents and grandparents felt this way at times too. My grandparents were adults during WWI and WWII, and my parents were witnessing terrible things in the tumultuous 1960’s. I’m sure they felt afraid and concerned at that time too. One thing they did not do is turn and look the other way when someone was being mistreated. They always spoke up, and always stood up for people who were being treated unfairly.
In today’s world, I keep thinking about the saying, “If you ignore the problem, then you condone it.” Right now, many of us need to be remembering this. On a world scale, it applies to racism, bullying, sexism, animal cruelty, hatred, or any type of discrimination. On a personal level, it applies to those who are being unfairly treated at work, home, or in our communities.
Confrontations aren’t easy, but I have always prided myself on the fact that I will stand up for others, whether I know them or not. I will stand up for someone else before I stand up for myself. My friends and family can always have confidence in knowing I will defend them. If someone mistreats them, I won’t tolerate it, and will address it directly, putting a stop it to immediately. If the other person gets upset with me, that’s just too bad. I will not condone meanness on any level, especially if it’s hurting someone I care about. I admired this quality in my family members, and have applied it to my own actions, feeling that it defines good character. The good old “golden rule” seems to be lost in our society these days. Some people might say they live by it, but their actions say otherwise. In other words, they have no balls! When you don’t speak up directly, and don’t stand up for someone being mistreated, you are showing that person that you don’t care about them, and you agree with the poor treatment. What does that say about your character? How should the person being mistreated feel about you? If you agree with the negative treatment, then why would they trust you on other things? Why would they support you if you needed it, when you didn’t defend them? If you thought they were your friend before, then I am willing to bet there will be a wedge in your relationship after the fact.
I worked in a situation once where another teacher was being incredibly cruel to me. It was being condoned and encouraged by the owners of the school (private school). They were trying to make me uncomfortable enough to quit. They had no reason to fire me because I had done nothing wrong. I just knew too much….(actually, I could have an entire blog just on that school!). This teacher was telling other teachers not to talk to me, or they would be fired. Why? They had decided I was a threat to their business by knowing a bit too much about their financial dealings. Yet, I would go to work each day, arriving early, teaching my students, and showing them my love and dedication, even though I was being ignored, talked about, lied on, and putting up with mean remarks by this other teacher (directly and indirectly). No one stood up for me. No one helped me. I was keeping my mouth shut and being professional, but I became a target, and it was miserable. All I wanted to do was teach. It taught me a lot about the character of the others who wouldn’t help me. There were still a couple of teachers who talked to me, and were supportive, but no one who had the power to put a stop to this evil witch and her remarks did anything about it. They showed me their character…..
We teach our students in school that we will not condone any type of bullying (threats, harassment, alienation, physicality, gossip, etc), but adults are just as guilty of it, and many condone it by not putting a stop to it. I know I talk a lot about being nice, or being kind, and I think most people think they are. Adults can hurt just as much, or maybe even more so, than children when it comes to cruelty. I challenge all of you to look in the mirror, and evaluate yourself on this. Are you really nice if you are ignoring mean behavior? Are you really nice if you aren’t practicing what you preach about loyalty, love, trust, friendship, care, and protection? If you are ignoring it, then you are definitely a major part of the problem. Don’t be a part of the problem. No matter how large or small the situation….stand up, grow a pair, and don’t allow ANYONE to be mistreated.