So I’m pretty sure this post (along with many other previous posts) will give away where I actually stand when it comes to issues brought up in my NaNoWriMo novel, but that’s okay. It’s important for me to write this…so important, in fact, that it actually was one of the main things on my mind that prompted what I wanted to write about in my novel.
I have to say that for the most part, I shy away from controversy and confrontation. I don’t like getting involved in drama, and I am a big proponent of people not hating me. So my opinion is usually quieted as I respectfully listen to people go on their soapboxes.
But if there is something I feel really strongly about, I speak up. It may be a whisper or it may be a yell, but I do like people to know where I stand on big issues that I believe in (or don’t, in some cases).
(Sorry in advance for all of the paragraphs…) When a customer was slinging racial insults at a coworker of mine a few years ago, I spoke up, even with the knowledge that I may get fired for it. That’s how strongly I believed that no person, especially one as sweet and friendly and unassuming as my coworker was (and still is), should ever have to be treated like they’re less than anyone else because of their race. Period. No exceptions. Now I wasn’t mean to the customer, but I was very clear in letting her know that the language she was using was not tolerated, and that it would do her some good to show some respect (okay, fine. There may or may not have been some not-so-joking mention of making sure to remember to take her meds before she thought to open her mouth again, but still).
I took little stands.
Also some years back, I heard a man–who, by the way, the bus driver had let on the bus for free out of the kindness of his heart–harass said bus driver during the entire hour-long ride. He was calling him stupid and incapable of anything and kept hurling one-liners to egg this guy on. To the bus driver’s credit, he completely ignored the moron. Disclaimer: swear word coming. As we all exited the bus at the last stop, the guy yelled out, “Thanks for nothing, fucker!” That was it for me. I yelled back, “Shut up. Shut the hell up. He gave you a free ride, you should be saying thank you!” I looked him square in the eyes, daring him to challenge me. He just looked at me like I was crazy and walked away. Looking back now, it was probably a really stupid idea of me to do that, because he could’ve totally been packing heat. But sometimes, when someone really irritates me, I have the tendency to think I’m 8 feet tall with big, bulging muscles. Whoops. But still. Principle of the thing, right?
A couple years ago, I stopped giving money to the Salvation Army bell-ringers, which truthfully bummed me out, because I have fond memories of being a kid and dropping change into their red buckets, thinking I was contributing to making the world a better place, no matter how small the gesture seemed. In its place, I sought to donate my money to other humanitarian organizations and volunteered at a soup kitchen.
I took little stands.
Then there were the quieter stands that I took when it came to music choices. I purposefully bought some Dixie Chicks albums after the whole debacle of radio stations banning their music and people piling their CDs up and setting them on fire. I stopped buying or liking John Mayer’s music after finding out what a poor excuse for a man he is.
Again, little stands.
The most recent little stands that have happened in my life, I may just be the most proud of. One I can’t take credit for, because it was my husband who did the action. When we were at a local Target, he was appalled to see Chick-fil-A gift cards for sale. Honestly, I can’t even think of a single Chick-Fil-A in our area, so it didn’t even make sense that they were selling them. In a non-violent, little show of what he stood for, he took the stack of gift cards and deposited them all behind a CD display. They probably won’t see the light of day again until next inventory. He didn’t steal, he didn’t vandalize. But he did make a wordless yet powerful statement: he didn’t think the corporation deserved money. I was taken aback for only a nanosecond before I high-fived him. Proud wife right here.
I have to take a moment here and say that one of the most annoying things I’ve heard about the Chick-Fil-A controversy is comments along the lines of, “Get over it. It’s chicken. I don’t want to think about what political statement I’m making every time I go and buy food.” And you know, I can agree with that, all the way up until the CEO decided to make a political statement. If he wanted, he could’ve just stayed quiet about it and actually respect everyone, no matter who they are, like he claims that the company does. That’s okay, though. He can choose to keep his restaurant open, and people are free to choose not to go there. Everyone’s exercising their right to believe what they want. And apparently the place has been getting more business because as Westboro Baptist Church has learned, any press is good press. And you know what standup citizens they are.
Then a few weeks ago, outside a grocery store, I saw Boy Scouts selling popcorn. I looked each of the little boys in the eye (which–sidebar–where the heck was the adult chaperone? Did they do away with those, too?) and said politely but very firmly, “No thank you. I refuse to support the organization you belong to.”
I felt good saying those words, even to those little boys. It’s not my wish to break their hearts by telling them how discriminatory their organization is; rather, I want to give them the information they need to question why I said what I did. Even children–no, especially children–need to have the ability to not just blindly follow what’s set forth for them. If they decide that their beliefs coincide with the BSA, then they by all means should have the freedom to continue to be a part of them. But if they realize their beliefs are completely different, they should also be free to not be a part of that organization anymore. Most importantly, they need to be armed with the information to make their own choices.
Which brings me to the last thing I want to bring up. My husband earned his Eagle Scout status some years ago, and he was very proud of that status, even putting it on his resume as an accomplishment. And then July’s statement happened, and that all changed. He immediately considered giving back his medal, and is removing Eagle Scout from his resume because he refuses to be a part of something so corrupt. Let me tell you, I was proud of him then, too. I read some other resignation letters from other (former) Eagle Scouts around the nation, and they moved me to tears.
What I’m trying to say is that I know what I’m not tolerant of, and that’s intolerance (yes, ironic, I know). I don’t stand for violence or bullying or shunning people because they’re different. I want people to celebrate who they are, for exactly who they are. I want my children to grow up in a world where they don’t have to be scared to go to school for fear of not wearing the right thing or acting the right way or saying the right things. And I have to say that just because I’m straight doesn’t mean I’m narrow (see this website to figure out what the heck I’m talking about).
I guess this rant has gone on longer than I intended. So let me close with an Ellen Degeneres quote:
“I want to be clear and here are the values that I stand for: I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated, and helping those in need. To me those are traditional values. That’s what I stand for.”
To Taking Stands, Whether Little or Big, in Order to Make the World a Better Place,