Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

Sometimes You Must Stand.

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In a world that often punishes. labels or disregards people who stand for what is right, the task of standing for that right can often be difficult. We live in a world where we seek the approval and appreciation of others and when we sometimes find ourselves at odds with them on any given issue, it can become a source of contention or strife.

Standing for what we believe can be polarizing and alienating; it can cause major rifts in long standing relationships and bring hardship and pain to those involved.

I can recount the strong and courageous people in history and in my own personal experience who stood up for the underdog by cherishing their rights. They even risked their very lives, fortunes and good reputations by taking such stands. Many of them are just everyday people who spoke up for good and don’t look the other way or hide themselves from harm’s way when their neighbors or strangers are being persecuted or attacked.

They include the elderly woman who stood up to assailants who attempted to rob her neighbor on his front porch. “Stop it,” she shouted. ” I said stop it. Don’t you hurt him. He’s a good man.” Startled at her full throated, high pitched warning, the young men stepped away in silence and ran down the street.

The young man who came to aid another young man accused of stealing something that he hadn’t taken. “He didn’t do it,” said the young man, “That other boy took it,” who was now long gone. It takes something special to stand up in today’s world. People who do so are often labeled and ostracized and given a bad rap.

It is strange how we publicly extol the virtues of honesty, bravery and moral and physical courage, but find ourselves quickly vanishing from view when someone we know speaks out against injustice or some other wrong.

The silence is deafening. We are too afraid to side with them. Too much is at stake. We have too much to lose. We do not want to run afoul of those who have our destiny and our livelihood in their hands. The rewards don’t outweigh the risks. Better to be silent to live to “fight,”stand or eat another day.

But this cannot always be done. There should be something in each person that yearns and cries out for those who are crying out in pain; those who are suffering at the hands of others who have perfected their patterns of treating them unjustly. There is something in the soul of each person that seeks connection with the soul and humanity of other persons. There is the connective tissue; the consanguineous ties that bind us together in the family of humanity. These ties and connections transcend race, gender and all other categories by which we principally define and describe our character and the trajectories of persons in this society. There is something in us that resonates with others who are suffering and who languish under the perils of penalty. This is the common soul of humanity; the common parts of our common ground and our common body that make us all one despite our minuscule and superficial exterior differences.

When is the last time you took a stand? When did you last speak up for someone you knew was being treated unfairly, unjustly, unwisely? When is the last time you risked something of personal value by standing for what is right?

There is strength in our standing for each other. There is strength when each of us stands for all of us and all of us stands for each of us.

Where are you? Where is your voice? Do you have a soul? Say something or  just quietly or vocally stand.

Please stand.

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