I probably wouldn’t have listened to a 40-something dude who looked like me, but every once in a while I think about the kind of advice I would give to younger Tim. Periodically I’ll share those here.
Topic 24: Stand up for yourself, stand up for others, but don’t be a jerk.
It’s happened already, 16 year old Tim; you know you’re right, and someone else (likely someone in “authority”) is wrong and insists on their incorrect point of view. Mrs. Gaulin and her insipid stance that the zero year presidential jinx would apply to Jimmy Carter (cough cough… elected in 1976, not 1980… but whatever), and many many others. Sometimes they’re just annoying like that, and sometimes they rise to the level of true lack of fairness. Later in life, you’ll call that gnawing reaction to these as your flaming sword of justice starting to glow.
Yeah, flaming sword. Of justice. Definitely odd. But, really… bear with me…
Sometimes life’s little injustices apply to you, sometimes you’ll see people act unfairly towards others. In many of those cases, even when it’s not you, you’ll feel compelled to say something. That’s good. It’s part of what makes you, well, you.
Given all of the times it’s been necessary to wield the flaming sword of justice, I’ve learned a few things I’d like to share:
– It’s important to stand up for yourself and others when an authority figure or someone with leverage of some form is being demonstrably unfair. When you see someone else put through the wringer for no good reason, it’s ok to stand up for them (the person at the fast food place that lied about the attitude of the order taker in an attempt to get them fired for an honest mistake in the back… please feel free to step in and save that person’s job.).
– Be double sure you’re right. Nothing’s worse than wielding the sword when you’re mistaken. Not that that’s happened, but it almost has.
– It’s super easy to be a righteous a-hole when you respond to life’s little indignities. No yelling. State your case. Cut theirs to pieces. Always be classy, because later on you’ll be way happier if the other person is an irrational screamer, and you’re cool and collected (on the outside).*
– On the other hand… sometimes you’ll be right, others will be wrong, and you need to keep quiet. These times will suck, but other factors dictate silence. More on this later.
So: stand up for yourself, stand up for others, don’t be a jerk. Go get ’em…
*Examples abound, but not here, and not yet.