By Jamie Kirk
You should be ashamed of yourself if you are still living to please other people. You should be ashamed of yourself if you won’t speak up when you see injustice. You should be ashamed of yourself if you allow your opinions not to be considered by friends and family. You should be ashamed of yourself if you KNOW the right thing to do but allow the WRONG thing to happen in your presence. You should be ashamed of yourself if you are afraid to live your most authentic and true life.
The time has come for us to speak up. In our country, the greatest Nation, despite your thoughts on current leadership and despite the bill and laws you don’t agree with, we still live in the greatest Nation there is! And in this country, we cannot be put in jail for expressing our opinion or disagreeing with our neighbor. Even though Georgia is an “at will” state regarding termination, we should not be terminated for voicing our concerns regarding what is insensitive or inappropriate behavior towards our peers. We have the right to free speech. Not exercising this right is no one fault but ours.
Many civil rights leaders and government officials fought the good (and very long fight) for us to have freedom of speech and the ability to be treated fairly and equally, regardless of our gender, sex, race, religion, class status or appearance. These leaders protested, did sit-ins, boycotts, and lead marches, as examples of how intolerance would not be tolerated. Many of these leaders lost families members, jobs, careers, etc. to stand up for what they believed to be RIGHT. And all we have to do these days is speak up and say: “I didn’t think that is acceptable.” In many cases we don’t have to protest in the streets – all we have to do is use our voice. And if we don’t, we should be ashamed of ourselves.
The time has come not to stand back and watch injustice because we don’t want to ruffle feathers. We have to stand there, back straight, voice shaky, and say “that is wrong.” We can’t be concerned about the next step. We can’t own if something is done about the situation. We can’t try to determine what the punishment should be; we can only be responsible for voicing our concern. In some cases, our opinion may just be that. It doesn’t matter; we have to own walking in our own truth and ensuring that we are honoring those that fought on our behalf and those that would stop at nothing to give us the ability to voice our concern over what we know to be true and righteous.
It is so easy to get this message diluted by giving examples. Should Colin Kaepernick not have taken a knee? Should the baker have baked the cake for the gay couple? Should the wall be funded? When should a police officer act in self-defense? Although these are all deeply controversial topics, they all have one thing in common: human decency and respect are not being displayed. I don’t want to get into the business of challenging the belief system of anyone, but I know that the human belief system should be one that does not allow a person’s civil or political rights to be infringed upon by governments, social organizations or private individuals. The true definition of civil rights is to ensure 100% that one’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression. If you do not agree with this equal right, then shame on you.
Not everyone holds their tongue. Not everyone allows injustice to be accepted. Many people have quit jobs, moved from neighborhoods, stopped talking to family members and even ended otherwise loving relationships, because of their deep and very personal commitments to their belief systems. I firmly believe that if you are terminated from a job or someone leaves you because of your views, then you are much better off and should just let it go and not chase it (person or whatever) to come back to your life. If they cannot respect your position, then why would you want to tolerate them in your life. Allowing unloving behavior in your life is unacceptable.
Again, this is much, much more about celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is much, much more than agreeing or disagreeing with who people voted into the office of Commander in Chief. This is bigger than if you think racial profiling exists. This is about each of us being held accountable for what we actually DO believe in. I think it is fair to say that people believe in human rights, but for those that don’t – say it. Be a big enough person to admit that you believe in socialism or classism. You may be unpopular at the dinner table and maybe even get your car keyed, but walk in your truth. The issue of being ashamed is not so much in what you believe, but in that, you will not stand up in those beliefs.
Being ashamed on your viewpoints is not the intent of this message. The intent is that we know right from wrong. We know our upbringing either does or does not support how we are living our lives today. We have to take all of the information we have, process it and come up with our value system. We owe it to those less fortunate, those that can’t speak and those that have been threatened to get behind us and follow your lead. Our lead should be carrying the torch of truth and honor. Our lead should be doing the right thing when no one is looking. Our lead should be acknowledging the sacrifice and commitment of those men and women that took a bullet for us to have sustained and continually freedom. Our lead should not be ashamed to call out our boss, our parents, our spouse and say: “I won’t tolerate this conversation, and I am going to remove myself from it.”
Each of us has to be adult enough, brave enough, committed enough, strong enough and loving enough to not just say these words, but have our actions support them daily. Pledging allegiance to the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Not just when it is convenient, but all the time until doing the right thing becomes something we don’t have to even think about. We just do it and say it without thought of how it will be received. We just do it because if we don’t personally do it (each and every time) – who will?