I think it takes a lot of bravery for someone to stand up for others. I know that for me, there have been times when I wanted to stand up for someone but didn’t out of fear of what might happen. I admit that there are times when I regret not speaking up.
I remember I was in high school when there was this student who was a year younger than me. Every day her supposed ‘friends’ would make fun of her and say nasty comments. Now, I can’t be sure, but I don’t think she realized that they were poking fun at her. I wanted to say something, but I didn’t. Was it because I didn’t want the others to pick on me? Was it because I didn’t want to get involved in something that wasn’t really my business? I’m not quite sure. Either way, I didn’t speak up and a part of me wishes I had.
I will say this. There have been times where I’m proud to say I have stuck up for others. When I was younger I had two friends over. I don’t remember what the argument was about, but one of my friends got angry with the other and said something along the lines of, “This is why my uncle told me not to hang around black people!” To say the least, I was furious. I told her to leave immediately and she did. I never spoke to her again and I can honestly say that I don’t regret it.
I lost a friend that day. The truth is though that she was rude and disrespectful. I don’t talk to the friend I defended often, but that friendship has lasted a long time and I would still stand up for her today if I had to. No one should be treated poorly because of their race and no one should have cruel, racist comments thrown their way. I’m not sorry for losing the friend who made the discriminatory comment. In fact, I was more than happy never to speak to her again. Years later I would see her hanging out with friends who were African American. I couldn’t help but wonder what they would think if they knew what she had said.
There was another time in which I remember clearly standing up for something I believed in. I had been shopping with a couple of friends when one of them tried to steal something. I asked them several times not to and I believe that in the end, I actually managed to stop them from doing so. Knowing this individual, she was probably quite frustrated with me – perhaps she even thought that I was ‘lame’. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. I’m proud that I stood up for something that I believed in. Maybe I didn’t make a huge difference that day, but I did try.
It can be hard speaking up, there will always be risks. We may lose a friend here or there, we might be judged because someone doesn’t understand why we care about something so much, or we might be considered a ‘goody two-shoes’. The truth is though that the world needs people to stand up for what’s right! It doesn’t always matter in the end if you’re popular or not. I’d much rather do the right thing and it be unpopular than do something unjust and be popular.