I had the complete honor and privilege of watching my sister give a speech at the Town of Hempstead Board meeting on Tuesday evening. It was awe inspiring and motivating. My sister does not consider herself a public speaker. Yet, when faced with extremely righteous causes nothing would keep her from standing up for her principles and beliefs. She put her apprehension of public speaking aside to do what matters. In this case it was to take a stand for the benefit and safety of the animals at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter, and more vehemently to stand up against anti-Semitic hate speech.
Watching my sister and the other speakers made me think: Why is it that some people have no problem standing up for what is right? What is it that brings someone to action? Why do some people appear to have no ability or desire to stand up for anything? Why are some people ready and willing at a moments notice to put themselves on the line for others in manners that can be injurious to themselves physically or mentally?
As I sat pondering these thoughts late into the night when I should have been sleeping I had several ideas. The first was that the way you were raised as a child probably has a great deal to do with your sense of right and wrong. You may have watched your parents involved in your community doing charitable work. You may have heard or were part of discussions as a child or a teen in your parents house that made you aware how important it is to stand up for the things that really matter to you. My sister and I were taught to never back down and to never give up when fighting to right an injustice no matter how insurmountable it seemed.
Then I thought, even without family discussions or role models of activism sometimes our life experiences carve out a road we know we must take. If, for example, you were bullied or abused as a child, I imagine it would be horrifically painful to hear about any child living a similarly horrendous torturous existence. It might remind you of the time when you didn’t have a voice or your voice went unheard. Even without hearing about another child suffering, your life experiences may motivate you to stand up for those that desperately need your help.
Sometimes I find myself feeling confused by others’ inaction, so I try to understand their mindset. I surmise that some people convince themselves a cause does not affect them in order to rationalize not getting involved. Maybe some people are simply not interested in tackling the important, albeit difficult issues that lay in front of them. Perhaps they’re too comfortable in their own lives; perhaps they don’t know what to do or where to begin; or, perhaps they doubt their ability to effect change. It seems to me that in the world of wrongdoings, there is no room to say “that’s not my issue” or “that’s not my fight”; injustice is injustice no matter who it affects, and every person is capable of working to improve other people’s lives. And if anything, history has shown that when it is permissible to target one group, it will eventually spread to affect other groups too – maybe even yours.
All of this has me hoping that your social interest and actions are now sparked. If you do not yet have a cause or something that you want to work towards, think about what people or organizations need you. Volunteering or fighting for an underdog will completely warm your heart. So, what cause will inspire YOU to act as an advocate? When will YOUR principles propel you to action? I hope you know acting on YOUR convictions can be a catalyst for others. I know you all have it in you. I know you all believe passionately that this world can be a better place for all of us. I assure you that you will never be sorry that you gave of yourself, and the recipients of your good deeds will forever be grateful.