I was fortunate enough to be raised in a good home. My parents instilled in me a strong sense of doing right, of being a good person, of being introspective. Not that I was always a perfect angel, as I was a flawed human being who made a great many mistakes of my own. But it was important to me to respect the person I was. It took me a long time to accept the cruelty and unfairness of the world around me. It was heartbreaking to see how most people would turn a blind eye to horrific acts of violence or emotional bullying out of self-preservation. As I demanded better of myself, I expected better from those around me too. I would stand up to bullies, and even grown adults as a small kid. And I was the shy one! I was a sensitive, artistic kid, yet not even the ‘toughest’ of kids would stand up to an abusive teacher or other authority figure like I would. Guess you could say, I always had a knack of surprising people. But the world really let me down.
Hold on, this isn’t about shaming the world. It’s about hope. Hear me out. If we want a better world, we all have to stop using excuses and instead make a stand for what is right. We have to demand better from ourselves. If an employer is mistreating his employees, we must stand up to that person and inform them (respectfully but with confidence) that what they are doing is wrong. The thought cannot be that doing so may prevent my future promotion in the company. If my employer refuses to listen, then why should I stay there anyway? Likewise, if employees are taking advantage of a kind-hearted employer because they want more for themselves, to the detriment of the company, then it is my moral obligation to make a stand and tell them why what they are doing is wrong. My interest cannot be in fitting in and feeling liked. It must be in respecting who I really am. And who am I really? That can only be objectively determined through my actions, or inaction. As we all know and politicians exemplify, talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. So, be a good person. Act.
What is the alternative? Look around. This is what happens when bullies are not stood up to when growing into the adults they became. When liars were not called out. When those who stood by and did nothing were not shamed for their compliance to evil. When everyone who valued getting along with the wrongdoers were not called out for socially enabling the crooked people. It is not always moral to ‘get along’. Sometimes it is simply weak, caving to evil. ‘Strong and right’ is saying no to what is wrong. If a crowd has strong moral character, they naturally shun or criticize wrongdoers and encourage and support good-natured people. If they are wise, they will encourage wrongdoers whenever they do anything decent, so they are encouraged to better themselves so they can receive more social acceptance. If on the other hand, a crowd is morally corrupted, then everyone values the apparent ‘strength’ of the bully and shuns the victims as being ‘weak’. This is the mindset of short-sighted self-interest and social climbing, valuing easy short-term gain over long-term moral growth.
Where do corrupt politicians come from? They come from our own neighbourhoods. They learned their behaviour over a long period of time. If a community has strong moral character, criminals would never flourish. Their behaviour would have been spotted and called out a long time ago. The strength of a community is very important to the wellbeing of every individual within it. The good must speak out to help shape up the character of their community, or weakness will naturally corrupt it. In this time when we see the wicked running and ruining civilized society, it is more important than ever that we speak out, both within our own little communities and on the grand stage. When voices of the sane and reasonable are being silenced, it is more important than ever to speak out against the unjust.
Will you be weak or will you be strong? Will you give heroism a chance or will you kneel to bullies? The choice is yours but I will encourage you to give bravery a chance. Life is short and the biggest regret people tend to have is that they never felt the courage to be themselves, to express how they really felt, to stand for the things they really believed in. I choose not to regret. I choose to be the person I want to see in the mirror. Not someone perfect, but someone who is trying to better himself and to speak out for what is right. I choose to be brave. And what is bravery? Acting even though you are afraid. I tell you, when you give into fear it becomes a dark and domineering force over your life. But when you choose to be brave, fear is just part of the excitement of life. Standing up for what is right feels really, really good. And it gives you hope. Seeing someone else doing good is one thing, but when you yourself make a stand you feel a new wave of optimism you’d never experience if you hadn’t. Choose to be brave. Choose to be a better human being.
I can’t claim to have all the answers. Like you, I am just another flawed human being. But I hope I have inspired you with this message.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”