Thursday, February 4, 2016

On Speaking Up!

You are just sitting there, minding your own business when you hear it.  You feel uneasy inside but at the same time the adrenaline is rushing to keep you pinned to your seat.  The pain won't stop, yet you want to show it who's boss.  You finally get up the courage to stand up for yourself when - it's over...

This was me for most of my life.  Letting things slide by because I rather endure the pain instead of to break the peace.  This might seem shocking to those of you that know me as I am a quite outspoken person.  However, when it comes to things that truly bother me to the core - in person I rather just keep my mouth shut.

This all changed yesterday in the funiculaire to school.  I was sitting down minding my own business trying to mentally prepare myself for class at 8am.  Typically the ride down is pretty calm and quiet since most people are in need of coffee just as much as I was.  Yesterday was different though.  Yesterday there was a group of girls spouting off racist comments, not just jokes but flat out insults to people.  I won't repeat them here just due to how rude they were.  Unfortunately the two girls sitting right next to me were of the same race they were targeting.  They just looked at me - as if it was my duty to stand up to them.  I was getting flushed and angry and I didn't want to yell at them or else I'd be sinking to their level.

Finally, the funiculaire got to the school and I got off first.  I walked a little thinking - nah, it's ok it's none of my business.  Then I saw the girl who was sitting next to me... just looking at me.  I slowed down my pace and made sure the girls walked up to me.  I had no idea what to say - I didn't even know who they were.  It reminded me of the show "what would you do"; this time I really had to do something!  So, I said "Hi, you girls might not know me but I just wanted to tell you that what you were saying back there might have been offensive to some people". 

I was cool and collected, making sure not to let my emotions get the best of me.  They looked confused and then they realized what I was talking about.  They said in a shocked tone, "no no, you don't get it - it was just a joke just chill out". 

 I nodded my head and agreed, not that it was a joke but that maybe they thought it was a joke.  I assured them however that it was indeed offensive and that they were being very loud.  I explained about the two girls sitting next two me, and they started to look embarrassed.  They hopefully started to realize that certain things should never be said - no matter how "funny" you think it is.

I wished them a good day and walked off.  I will never know if the message sank in or not, but hopefully they will remember my demeanor.  I wasn't yelling so they could get angry, I was just calmly asking them to rethink their choices.  Isn't that our duty to society?  We all have free speech but don't we also have the right to stand up for what we believe in?  

Tell me what you guys think - what would you do?  Speak up or stay quiet?

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