What are you willing to fight for?
I mentioned in a previous blog entry, that someone else’s passion isn’t necessarily mine, nor is my passion yours. Does this mean we don’t care about each other’s passion? Not necessarily. It just means that we can act on that passion in a different way.
I am willing to write letters to advocate on subjects that I’m interested in such as Amnesty International or for the Friends New Underground Railroad. However, I am not willing to intentionally put myself in a situation where I will be killed to fight for that particular cause.
What are you willing to die for?
I asked myself that question tonight. Is there something I’m willing to die for? Is there a cause I feel 100% passionate about that I’m willing to risk my life?
While pondering that question, it dawned no me that losing a life for a cause can be literal or figurative. I have been wondering why so many are uncomfortable about talking about tough topics. Topics that make people uncomfortable. Topics that are controversial. They are afraid of repercussions. Will they die? Most likely not literally.
However, if we talk about – or act on – tough topics, we can die in other ways. People shun us, we lose jobs, there is a risk that we may lose something that seems vital to our wellbeing or those of the ones we love.
What makes a difference between the voice of an Evangelical Christian versus individuals who speak about other passions such as Malala Yousafzai? Malala is fighting for something that is highly political. Evangelical Christians are also fighting for what they think is right – a cause that is often rife with tension. But what makes the difference?
So many, many Evangelical Christians and activists make the mistake of being like Peter of the New Testament. They are much more likely to cut off ears. Why? I’m on the quest to learn. I want to know as I am highly afraid of cutting off ears rather than advocating for truth and justice.
Malala is referred to as “a beacon of hope — a reminder that the human spirit holds in it immense possibility, warmth, humility and forgiveness.” Christians are known for acting out hate, insensitivity, and bullying yet believing they are portraying the kindness, forgiveness, grace, love…. Why is Malala listened to while Christians by-and-large are avoided like the plague and/or illicit rage and anger?
As I was listening to a speech she made for the UN, I couldn’t help but be fascinated. Why are Malala’s speeches so compelling? Why do people listen to her instead of the 1000s who are advocating – and have been advocating – for education, irradiation of poverty and injustice, racial inequity, and women’s rights for many, many years? Why do people of all nations, beliefs, faiths, religions, and non-faith based people listen to her?
What makes Malala different than others? I strongly sense that she is oozing with genuine, authentic grace, kindness, and love. She speaks with knowledge and passion with articulate intelligence. She recognizes everyone and shuns no one. She is not willing to kill – literally OR figuratively, but to lift up.
Mother Teresa did the same. She went into the trenches and showed love and compassion, one person at a time. In the process, she became a voice of activism that was capitalized on and exploited. I remember reading a story that she walked out of a conference with World Vision as she felt she was raising publicity rather than aiding toward her cause – a cause of seeing individuals who are disgraced, shunned, and looked away from as being God in human form. This could have stopped her, but it didn’t. I’m sure she became quite discouraged at times, but her voice was not squelched.
Malala, along with at least 9 others, were willing to “fight to the death” for education and equality. Malala is strongly advocating for women’s rights, education for every child and the elimination of ignorance, poverty, and injustice. (Injustice being related to the subject of people being being treated unfairly.) She was shot, the others were killed. She allowed being shot to not make her afraid, but to be empowered. She was never a coward to fear.
What are you a coward of? What are you willing to fight for? What am I willing to fight for?
As I ponder this question, I realize that I am willing to fight for justice of others in the workplace. I have been a coward of fear of what my friends would think of me so I often delete and/or refrain from writing what I truly think and feel in this blog.
I don’t want to work from scratch once again, building my base of friendship from the bottom up. I don’t want to worry about or figure out who my true friends are. I don’t want to undergo shunning, strange looks, people thinking I’m crazy and more. Thus, I tend to keep my mouth shut as to what I truly believe. Only slowly but surely am I opening up more and more. Now that I realize this cowardliness of me, I will work to overcome it.
How do I overcome this by being a voice without cutting off people’s ears? If I cut off people’s ears, then no one wins. However, if I reach out in love, intelligence, grace, and knowledge, then I can make an impact.
At the same time, as I look back, what have I been willing to “fight for the death for”? It dawned on me that it’s employment. I am willing to advocate for justice even when there is a likely outcome of my being fired. I’ve been fired time and time again for many different reasons – most often for standing up for what is right and just, what is known to be beneficial for the program and organization according to research, their organizational goals and vision statements, the verbalized needs of employees and customers alike.
This idea of not having a steady job, of being paid via a 9-5 job that includes a supposedly guaranteed wage with good benefits, results in actions based on fear. People are much more apt to avoid being fired at all costs. I totally “get it.”
However, in my mind, what is better: standing up for what’s right (in this case the betterment of others who are associated with that particular workplace or job)? or stuffing it, looking the other way, and allowing myself to be stifle or killed by the stress of it all?
So many, many people in the workplace are literally being killed a slow, painful, steady death. They are dying from heart conditions and cancer all directly related to workplace violence. No one talks about it. There is no direct correlation – or so people believe. There is no immediate cause-and-effect. Instead, the bullies point the finger at the victim and make the victim look crazy. The bully sabotages the victim within the organization or from future employment. Everyone knows that and so they don’t say anything.
Those working alongside the victim either sympathizes when no one is looking, hides and pretends they are ignoring it, leaves that particular workplace, or takes up the fight with the bully and furthers the cause often resulting in being sabotaged in some way. Those working in abusive environments either allow themselves to be fired and/or dies from the stress strongly believing that that, for them, there is no way out.
In some situations that involve workplace violence, victims are dealing with personal demons where they feel they just can’t escape. Thus, once again, with the reasons that these articles lay out via the hyperlinks of the prior sentence, there is a risk of the violence being dismissed as being the victim’s fault rather than the fault of the organization. Once again, with this idea, the bully prevails.
People hate whistleblowers. People such as Edward Snowden become highly political. I love this statement from politico.com “Self-professed NSA leaker Edward Snowden has seemingly joined the list of famous whistleblowers. Some call these individuals heroes, many others call them traitors, but all of these figures became famous for providing information, sometimes secretly, in an attempt to expose the people or organization they worked for.” Not even politico.com will take a stance. Instead, they say Edward Snowden is a self-proclaimed whistleblower. It’s way too risky to say he’s a whistleblower. But, is he truly a whistleblower?
I don’t know if Snowden is a whistleblower. Only time will tell. All I do know is that he has made many, many very, very angry. He has “stirred the waters” while being willing to “fight to the death” for what he (I want to believe) feels to be is right and just. I want to believe he is standing for justice, for a cause that will stand up for the good of the masses.
What is the difference between Snowden and Malala? Why has Snowden cut off ears and Malala has renewed, replaced, and/or healed them? Why does her passion, her willingness to “fight for the death,” win over the masses and create a listening ear — and hopefully continued action?
What makes things “stick” rather than get stomped on?
During the most recent orientation I attended, the HR officiator of the orientation stated “Employees have no rights” and emphasized – and reemphasized – throughout the orientation that he is an attorney. This made me realize: These are statements of fear and power. These statements are extremely effective in keeping the mouths of the masses shut. Especially when followed with an execution of verbal and nonverbal cues as well as the final execution of firing someone with no apparent cause.
I was looking for the rally that was made during George W. Bush’s era that was effectively stomped on. Ironically I can’t find it through a quick and easy Google search. However, I did find an article from NY Times who shared this quote: “People are not at liberty to speak whenever, however, and wherever they please,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ruled for the court. “In that regard, we have recognized that securing the safety of the president is a vital concern.”
The people of the United States have lost their voice politically and individually. We have lost our voice within politics, religion, and the workplace.
Jonathan Turley writes: “Free speech is dying in the Western world. While most people still enjoy considerable freedom of expression, this right, once a near-absolute, has become less defined and less dependable for those espousing controversial social, political or religious views. The decline of free speech has come not from any single blow but rather from thousands of paper cuts of well-intentioned exceptions designed to maintain social harmony.”
Ironically, the methods used toward stifling, covering-up, and evading what will result in the Highest Good is yielding the ability toward the continuation of the movement toward loss of free speech. The tactic that Justice Ginsburg referred to utilized pointing out sources of fear and intimidation. In this case, weapons. How was it enabled? Through effective, pre-planned strategies that were unapparent to those who had the loudest voice at the time.
This continuation of heightened use of fear and intimidation through the utilization of words which highlight actions with implications involving the possibility of fear and intimidation is a virus that is spreading and winning. Our voices are being stifled through fear and intimidation. Everyone is afraid of losing something important to them. Through bullies – intentional or non-intentional – people are dying – blatantly and subtly – because no one is speaking up. People are not speaking up because they are afraid. In addition, the fear of personal loss is capitalized on through the fear of not being heard, being invalidated, and “fighting to the death” for no reason. They are afraid that the outcome is not worth the output. They are afraid that they are the crazy ones.
Thus, fewer and fewer Americans are willing to “fight to the death.” We are losing our ability for freedom of speech. We are afraid. We are killing each other, allowing each other to be killed, and are allowing ourselves to be killed, by allowing the bullies to win through intimidation. Fear is a powerful tool. By all observations, fear is winning.
Why do I say the bullies are winning? Why do I say we are killing ourselves and allowing ourselves to be killed?
Global warming is not being stopped. The Taliban is not being stopped. Millions and millions of hard working people are dying from an unjust system (including job stress and inadequate staffing, workplace violence and bullying in the workplace, low wages, and lack of healthcare), Domestic Violence is not being stopped. Racial inequity is alive and well. Why?
Does that mean we ought to silence ourselves? Does that mean we need to speak up? If action is needed, then how much, how loud, how far should we go?
If we want to be a voice, how can we make ourselves heard? How can we advocate for what we believe to be what is True, what is Good, what is Just?
How can we overcome fear, stand strong, and unite us all toward peace, love, and goodness for all?