A few weeks ago, a couple of politicians made some remarks that most people recognized as improper. They both commented that it was okay to be uncivil to those of another political persuasion; one even recommended using physical force on those opposing his views. I waited for someone in their political party to speak against what was said. It wasn’t long until one did. One lone female Senator spoke up and disagreed with them. A few days later a former First Lady also spoke up and took issue with both statements.
It made me think, “Why is it so hard to speak truth to people in power? Why were there only two women who were willing to take up the microphone and disagree with what was said?” There are many answers to these questions. First, most people (yes, even those who are in positions of political power) are afraid to speak up and call out those in their own political party who may be making statements that need to be challenged. Second, there will usually be some sort of repercussions if one does speak up. These repercussions may not be serious, but just the fact a person is not willing to fall in line with the herd will set one apart. Third, it takes real courage in order to speak up and stand up when few others are willing to do so.
We live in a society that is becoming more and more divisive. Tribalism has set in and one is expected to tow the line of whatever tribe one is a part of. We do not have to go along with this kind of thinking or social engineering. We can break out of our “tribal thinking” and be willing to take a stand should someone in our “tribe” make statements that are uncivil, rude or unnecessarily divisive.
Personally, I prefer to not be part of any “tribe.” I want to be an independent thinker that recognizes the worth of each individual and gives people the freedom to think differently than I do. How about you? Have you noticed more pressure than usual to just go along with what your group or tribe is saying and just keep quiet? What do you do about it?
Recently in the news, I saw the story of a young man who had been drinking at a party and injured himself. Some at the party wanted to call for help while others didn’t want to get the authorities involved and insisted that no one make the call. The next morning the young man died.
Peer pressure…we all face it in one form or another. When we say “peer pressure” we think of kids at school. However, adults face peer pressure in their work environment and in every social group they are involved in. Within every group we are part of, there is a level of peer pressure asking us to conform to whatever the strongest voices in the group are espousing. So how do we develop the moral courage to stand against peer pressure when we know someone in the group is asking us to do or think the wrong thing?
When I was pondering this question, one word stood out to me and that was the word “No.” We each must learn to say the word strongly and clearly when it is appropriate. The first person we need to learn to say “No” to is ourselves. Every day we are faced with choices that we should say “No” to. We need to practice saying “No” to ourselves and then follow through and do the right thing, whatever that is at the time.
The next group of people we have to learn to say “No” to is our children. As parents, we want to make our children happy, and it is difficult to say “No” to them. However, say “No” we must if want to raise healthy responsible children. But the pushback, boy can we face pushback from our children. It can be very vocal or silent with doors slamming. It is very difficult to stand against the pushback, but we must learn to do it.
One of the hardest areas to learn to say “No” in is within the social groups we are in. We all want to be liked and thought well of in our various social circles and so we find it difficult to say “No” in these groups. When we are faced with wrong choices, we must practice standing up and saying “No” even when we will face pushback from the people we associate with. Just going along with the herd will not make us feel any better about ourselves if the group has chosen do something we know is wrong. If we want to face ourselves in the mirror and sleep well at night, we must learn to make these difficult choices.
Let’s remember Jesus Christ. He said “No” many times in the face of great opposition and did the right thing in spite of the pushback he faced. He is our example of moral courage.