While sharing many of my 2015 learning in a past post, I stated the following: “Everyone has a sword to fall on… something for which they must take a stand. But, no one can fall on them all. Choose wisely.”
While watching Downton Abbey, something our kids have now enjoyed indulging in with us, I heard Mr. Molesley whip out another, quite related quote (best guess is that Edmund Burke first said it) about standing on principle.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”
At first, I thought that the sentiments were in conflict, but I’m rethinking.
As parents, we are advocates. We advocate for our children when they aren’t old enough or wise enough to do so for themselves. We advocate for ourselves so that we may better provide. We advocate for our parents and for our families when they are in need. In my family, we extend ourselves to the community and do our best to speak out, and stand up against what’s wrong when we can.
Teaching this to our kids is important to us. If you see bullying, speak up. If someone is hurting someone else, say something to stop it, get help. If two people are in conflict, try to help them get along and work it out.
This past summer was a difficult one, filled with advocacy for others, for our kids, and for ourselves. As we watched others stand idly by, stating that we were doing the right thing, but that they just didn’t want to get involved, or that they were frightened of the ramifications of speaking up (but “so good of you to be doing what you’re doing!”), I became angry.
This fall, I was even tagged in a post for a cause which may have ignited me in the past, but for which my passions have been exhausted. “We need you.” I was slightly flattered and mostly annoyed that to gain traction, it seemed necessary to dig up an old standby, one who might be sucker enough to stick her neck out, again. Not my sword to fall on this time.
There are swords everywhere. Some are big, some are small, others of unknown size and consequence.
At a middle school birthday party, a call is made to a girl (who wasn’t invited) just to tell her that the boy she likes doesn’t like her. At another birthday party, one child is hurting another, physically, and confides to your daughter that it happens all the time and there are bruises. At work, your co-worker is threatened that if she doesn’t put in unpaid overtime, her job is on the line. Animals are dumped at your country farm after they are no longer cute babies. In the community, underhanded government representatives find ways to misuse our tax dollars. Health care corporations and higher education “corporations” bleed us of savings without return on our investments.
Mirroring my least favorite response to bad behavior in children, many shrug flippantly, heads tilted, “Well, what can you do…”
No, we can’t take every single sword to the chest. None of us has enough lives for that (I die a little each time, win or lose). Perhaps instead of throwing hands to the air, though, have an educated opinion, and have the cojones to share it rather than idly nodding at that with which you disagree. Sign a petition, write a letter, make a few phone calls, advocate for someone in need.
A dear friend once said, “But Julie, I can’t speak out like that in front of a group. I’ll freeze up.” I assured her that it was okay. “If you agree, just show up. Stand next to me and nod. I can do the talking.” Anyone remember A Bug’s Life? They were ANTS for heaven’s sake! In numbers, they won. Show up.
So, what are you going to do?
Here’s a mini guide to owning a sword or not…
- I saw it or I know about it and have checked facts.
- How does it affect me?
- How does it affect others who may or may not be able to help?
- Is it isolated?
- Can I, in good conscience, ignore it?
Julie Ford is a certified life coach, speaker, writer, facilitator and trainer. She helps organizations support their high performers through parenting transitions. With one-on-one and group coaching, she helps her clients to define what matters most in their lives, and to realize what is and isn’t working. Collaboratively, they move through a customized plan to find more joy and less chaos in the everyday.