Then for a while my defense was to say less. To keep my mouth shut and not risk making anyone mad. It would save me tons of stress, I told myself. And sometimes that was true. But not always.
The past weeks have been kind of odd for me. Well, the past months really. Lots of things are changing- little things, but cumulatively they are making me feel a little disoriented. My grounding practices (namely choir practice and yoga) have been completely upended and don't feel like they are serving the same purpose for me they have in the past. There was a confrontation in a group I am in (sorry to be vague, but I literally have to be) that I was both in the center of and outside of, and a friend was hurt by it. And last tiny thing, but I said something on Facebook that to me sounded completely innocent but was taken the wrong way by a few people.
So, what is my point, what does this have to do with speaking up? I don't mean complain. I think there is far too much complaining as it is, I don't want to add to that pool of negativity. I'm not going to complain about the changes in my yoga classes or my church choir (or my whole church, for that matter...). I am going to try to accept them and let that experience help me learn and grow as a person. I am talking mostly about honesty and forgiveness. If you did or said or didn't do something that you feel hurt someone, fess up. Explain, ask for forgiveness, and then move on. In both of the cases I mentioned above, I did, and it at the very least made me feel better.
Another time it's not okay to keep quiet- when a friend or family member is struggling. We've all done it, be honest. Sometimes you feel like you have nothing to offer. Sometimes you don't know what to do or say. Or, lets face it, sometimes not saying or doing anything is the easy thing to do. I say that's not acceptable. Ask how they're doing. Let them know you can lend an ear, at the very least. Let them know they can ask for help, even if you don't know what to offer. Sometimes the mere fact that you said something can lift their spirits.
And the one last time it is not okay to keep quiet- when the people around you are spouting hate and that you don't agree with. Whether in facebook or real life, don't be afraid to speak up. I speak, of course, (at least at the moment) of all the hateful stuff being said about Muslims at the moment (phew, isn't it nice that I can be specific again?). The second that you and your denomination/faith/culture can say it has never committed atrocious acts against others (hello Slavery, the KKK, the murder of millions of Jews, the Crusades, protesting the funerals of military heros... I could go on), THEN you can condemn an entire race or creed of human beings. Here's another thing to remember- if you are condemning all Muslims, it is extremely likely you have never actually met a Muslim, like, in real life. If you have and you can still condemn them, well then I don't think there is any saving you. But when you have actual faces to put with an entire otherwise abstracted group of people, when you know these perfectly kind, perfectly normal, family oriented, lovely people there is no way you could condemn their entire religion because of the acts of a few extremists. There is danger, no one disputes that, but do we run in fear and condemn thousands of refuges, some of which are children, to die needlessly? I can't actually do anything about this, but I can speak my mind. And so should you.