By Susie Ekberg
Departing from my usual question and answer format, I feel led to speak up about speaking up. I saw a post from someone on Facebook about people needing to be truthful and stand up for what is right, and not befriend those who have caused harm to others. I said that a man hurt a friend of mine, and has asked me to be his friend twice, but I have said no. You have hurt my friend, and I won’t be friends with you. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be civil if I see him on the street, and it doesn’t mean that I will speak unkindly about him to others behind his back. It doesn’t mean that I wish him harm and it doesn’t mean that I hate him. It just means that I won’t be his friend. Friends don’t act the way he has acted.
We are taught to be nice. We are taught that if ‘you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’ (even Thumper says that in “Bambi”, remember?). We are taught that it’s unkind to hurt anyone’s feelings by saying something that may offend them. But I am here to say that sometimes it is the right thing to say something direct, to say something real and blunt and true, even if you think it may sound hurtful. Why? Because energy flows where energy flows, and if you block it or water it down, it gets stopped up, gummed up, and eventually everything becomes imbalanced.
If a mother slaps a young child and nobody does anything, the mother may believe it’s okay to do that, and may continue. I was at the park with my son and husband a few years ago when we came upon a man kicking a woman who was crouched into the fetal position. A baby was crying nearby, and two young children were sitting silently next to them. Someone had gone to call the police, but no one wanted to approach the angry man. My husband tried to hold me back, but something broke inside of me, and I walked right up to the couple and sat down. I said, “That’s a beautiful baby. Is she yours?” I kept my eyes on the baby. The man looked surprised, but stopped beating his wife and started talking to me. “It must be pretty hectic raising three kids,” I said. He muttered yes. I asked him what he did for a living, and kept him away from his wife until the police got there and took him away.
My husband told me I was not very smart – I could’ve gotten hurt, and I suppose that’s true, but sometimes you need to take action and say something. At other times you need to keep quiet. But ask yourself if you keep quiet too often. Maybe it’s time to speak up.
Think of a current situation that is bothering you. Think of how conversations go with all of the people involved with the situation. Do you say what you want to say, as strongly as you would like to say it? Do you wish you had the nerve to say more? Can you think of why you don’t say what you’d like to say? Maybe you think that person won’t like you anymore. Maybe you think you’ll hurt their feelings.
There are probably a lot of reasons you don’t speak up, or say exactly what you want to say. I offer you a challenge: for a whole day, say exactly what you want to say, how you want to say it. See what happens. See how you feel. Take a stand. Tell your truth. Defend yourself. Defend a friend.
Somebody did something that hurt a person I dearly love. I wrote that person an e-mail. I told them exactly how I felt, and I didn’t mince any words. As a result, I’m pretty sure that person hates me, but you know what? I could care less. Ironically, I was upset at how she treated my loved one. I wasn’t even addressing her behavior towards me. Do I regret sending that e-mail? No. Would I send it again?
Heck yes. Sometimes ‘right’ action is not the soft, gentle, loving words but the tough, “No, you can not do that” words. If we don’t say them, who will? If a man beats a woman and we befriend the man, are we silently condoning his behavior? If a woman tells us she cheated on her husband and we remain silent, does that mean it’s okay? I don’t mean that we should tell her husband, but is there anything you would like to say to her? There must be some reason why she’s telling you.
Maybe she wants your opinion. Maybe she wants you to tell her she should stop, maybe she wants your understanding and sympathy. If you don’t say something, you’ll never know.
This is a perfect time for speaking up. Shake your doldrums away and feel yourself becoming more solid. What do you need to say? I’m going to say exactly what I need to say all day Friday, and I invite you all to do the same. I’m not saying we should be mean, or bitchy, or snarky. I am only suggesting that it is a very good thing to say exactly what we need to say – no more no less. No excess. I’m nervous and a little bit scared. But I think this is important, so I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. I invite you to do the same.
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