Standing up for what you believe in is a sign of character and integrity.
When push comes to shove, always dig your feet in and stand up for what you believe in. If you don’t, you will regret it later.
There was not a lot that my father said that is quoteworthy. Tthe best bit of advice he gave me that can be quoted is “I have more respect for a man who stands up for what he believes in, even if he is completely wrong, than I have a for a man who goes along with the crowd because it is the easiest thing to do.”
From the moment those words left my father’s mouth and entered my ears, I have used that quote to help guide me throughout my life.
When I have followed my dad’s advice and stood up for what I believed in, even if everyone else opposed my view, I felt proud of what I had done. However, I have regretted every incident where I didn’t stand up for what I believed in.
There have been a few times my avoidance to standing up for a belief lead me down a disastrous road.
About five years ago, a young friend of mine who worked as a server posted an image on Facebook. The image was of a billboard that read “If you can’t tip at least 18%, don’t go out and eat.”
I took great exception to the sign. Fifteen years earlier I took my wife out on our first date. At that time, I was living on money I received from my SSI check due to my disability. I took her to a cafe and paid for our meal. I did tip, but it was not in my budget to leave anywhere near 18% tip.
I know there are a lot of disabled people on SSI as well as a lot of retired people on a very fixed income. They deserve to be able to go out for a nice meal occasionally and not be looked down upon by servers just because an 18% tip is a lot of money for them.
I felt that if I had walked into my friends restaurant and he was my server the night I took my wife out on our first date, he would have looked down on me and I didn’t like that feeling for myself or for anyone else on fixed income.
I passionately expressed how I felt in a reply to his post. My response caught the eye of his mother, who I had been friends with for more than three decades. She took offense to my response and felt I was attacking her son. She unfriended me and has refused to speak to me since. In retrospect I may have been too passionate in my reply to the image and I do own that. I do regret the loss of a friend and wish her only the best in life (I have forgiven her and have no hard feelings) but I do not regret standing up for what I believed in.
Three years later, I was sitting in a meeting. The leader was speaking and explaining the costs that our committee would incur to get big name speakers to speak at an event I was assisting in promoting. When I heard the amount of money they were commanding, my jaw hit the floor. Before I could help myself, I blurted out “you know how much good we could do with that amount of money? That kind of money could help the students who come to school from a home that does not have enough food to feed them for a good portion of a school year.”
The leader of the meeting shouted, “I don’t care about those kids” and I shot back “the children in our community who are hungry should be everyone’s problem.”
For the rest of the meeting I didn’t say anything else except to apologize afterward for my outburst.
I wanted to resign from his project, but I didn’t. I stayed with the project and the words he spoke and my decision to back down from what I believed in continued to gnaw at me.
Two months later my stomach was always in knots. I didn’t want to work on the project anyone and I wish it would just go away. I should have resigned earlier, but I didn’t. Eventually everything came to a head. My decision to cave on what I believed in, protecting our children, contributed to an epic meltdown by me that cost me my appointment to this project and more.
In retrospect I do not regret losing my appointment to that committe nor do I regret losing some so-called friends. I do regret not standing up for the children of our society and not resigning in my own.
Between the two incidents, I am proud of standing up for people who wish to dine out on a fixed income, and I am ashamed that I did not do a better job standing up for hungry children. These experiences taught me that it is better to stand up for what you believe in than cave into pressure. I also learned my values are more important that keeping my word when push comes to shove. Since the epic fail, I have never compromised my values for anything, and I will never do it again.