One day after lunch I was on my way to meet up with my other 3rd grade friends for recess. As I walked down the almost empty hall, I saw a girl crying. I went over and asked her what was wrong. She said that nobody wanted to be her friend, because she had hairy legs. (This was back in the dark ages when girls had to wear dresses to school. My girlfriends were some of the kids who made fun of her and called her “hairy legs”.)
I hugged her and told her that I would be her friend. I went to recess with her, knowing full well what would likely happen. Sure enough, my girlfriends were upset to see me playing with “hairy legs”. They shunned me.
A short time later these same girls allowed “hairy legs” to be their friend and hang out with them. They continued to shun me, and so did she. This hurt me. I felt embarrassed, sad, and uncomfortable.
When I made the decision to befriend “hairy legs”, I didn’t do it to go against my friends. I did it because it was the right thing to do.
If I had to go back and do it all again, knowing what would happen to me, I would still do it. In fact, during my lifetime I have had to make several decisions between what is right and what is popular.
Half way through my junior year I moved to a different high school. I had to ride the bus to school with a bunch of total strangers. Several kids would make fun of one boy who always had very messy hair. I felt bad for the boy and I wondered why somebody didn’t do something. Then I realized that I am somebody. (I even doodled that thought on the back of my notebook.)
Next time these kids started making fun of this kid, I stood up for the kid and told them to stop. That brought all of the attack and debate on to me, but it gave the other kid a break. It was scary and uncomfortable. But, they stopped making fun of him. At least in front of me.
That kid never thanked me. In fact, one day the kid with messy hair said something really rude to me as he was getting off the bus. I thought, “This is what I get for standing up for him?”
I didn’t choose to stand up for that kid because I was against the other kids. I didn’t even know them. I did it because it was the right thing to do.
If I had to go back and do it all over again, I would.
These are only two small examples of many. (They didn’t seem small at the time though.)
Today I find myself in a similar situation yet again. I feel compelled to “do the right thing”, but it often isn’t easy, and it comes with a price. As I stand for what is right, I am accused of “being against” someone or something else. Not true. I stand for what is right, because it is the right thing to do.
As I stand for what is right, I am accused of all sorts of things. My name is aligned. Others are targeting me with multiple attacks, so others will see it and cower away from doing what is right.
The difference today? I have several other patriots who are willing to stand by my side and also do what is right. Brave people who are willing to do what is right, even though the cost may be hard.
There are also people on the other side of the issue(s) who tell me privately that they agree with me and what I am doing. Yet sadly their actions still show that it is more important for them to do what is seemingly popular. In public some of them even join in the attacks to gain favor with the very people they are afraid of.
Many others also know what is right, and want to do what is right, but are afraid of the retaliation. They will talk with us behind the scenes, and agree with us 100%, but are afraid to show it to the public. They are good people, but not willing to pay the price to stand up for what is right. They are afraid of the people in power.
I will stand alone for what is right if I have to, but I’m so glad that this time I am surrounded by other good patriots who are willing to stand up for what is right!
“In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” ~ Mark Twain