Sunday, 14 December 2014

On the Soap Box Yelling at the Queen

Sometimes it has to be said.

There's a box one can stand on in Hyde Park, London, England where, as long as you remain on the box, you can say anything you wish... including denouncing the Queen herself... and no-one can touch you. It's called Speakers Corner.

Last week I went off on those who criticize others, specifically those who mete out their criticism with a good dose of racism, sexism or any other “ism”. Being critical is not an issue with me. I believe questioning everything is a good thing. That which stands up to criticism usually proves valuable. Personal attacks on one's heritage or gender or sexual orientation or physical appearance is never to be stood for.

I noted a couple of things since last week after my rant.

Firstly, I received feedback stating there would always be people out there who would be critical and would attack others on a personal level. So? Does that mean we stand idly by and watch? I think not. Where would India be if Mahatma Gandhi had stood idly by and let the British continue their regime? Where would South Africa be if Nelson Mandela had decided to cave in to his captors pressures? Where would African Americans be if Martin Luther King had just let things slide?

How about Helen Gurley Brown or Gloria Steinem?

Malala Yousafzai?

Another message I saw was something along the lines of... promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. I have a problem with that. While I agree there is a balance between the two activities, one cannot turn a blind eye toward injustices. A Poly-anna attitude might work for the individual. It does not work for a society.

And no, I do not believe war or physical violence is the answer.

I don't disagree that too much focus on bashing what you hate is likely to cause more problems in your life than good. However, at some point, each of us has to stand up for what we believe. Most of that is good, I think. Some of that standing on the soap box is directed at things that need correcting.

I know of that which I speak.

When I was younger, I was bullied. There's no point sugar coating it. I was beaten up, pushed around, laughed at, mocked, ridiculed, stolen from, threatened, had property damaged, etc. This from the time I was five in Kindergarten until I was sixteen. For twelve years I would go to school knowing I would be bullied in some way. For twelve years I kept my mouth shut. For twelve years my friends let it slide.

The only message the bullies got was that I was an easy mark... and the beatings continued. The bullies had little to be afraid of because they knew I was too scared to speak up. The bullies had little to be afraid of because they knew my friends wouldn't be there to back me up.

Not speaking up about injustice serves only to send one message to the perpetrators of injustice... “It's okay to continue behaving badly toward others because I can get away with it.”

I know what it means to be bullied and face those fears every day. I know the courage it takes to get in the arena to face the lions with critics surrounding me no matter how much I might not want to get into the fight. The truth is, if you're playing the critical voyeur watching from the sidelines and not in the arena standing at my side getting your nose bloodied, your body bruised and your ego molested and taking the criticism just like me scrabbling in dusty, muddy, bloody combat... then I'm not interested in your opinion of how the battle is going.

If you're not willing to step in there and fight injustices, your opinion about the fight is of little value. I'm not interested in hearing it.

While I agree there are people out there doing ugly things and there likely always will be and I agree that focussing on the positive most of the time is a good thing, I also whole-heartedly believe that we need to speak up when we see injustice. Turning a blind eye or smiling and focussing on something pleasant doesn't solve the problem.

As Dr Phil says, whether you believe you are a fighter or not, if someone is throwing punches, you better damned well defend yourself because the reality is... your in a fight!

The reality is, we have to stand up to injustice... period. We're in a fight and we better defend ourselves.

I wonder if the Queen can hear me.

If you think I'm the only one who thinks this way, click here.