They say “see something? say something.” But what good does it do? It’s your word against theirs. Society teaches us that if we see an injustice to report it in attempts to do the right thing and justice will be served. But how often does it turn out that way? Answer: Hardly ever. Without proof, unless the perpetrator admits to the wrong-doing, it goes nowhere.
Innocent until proven guilty is the new golden rule. To be falsely accused is an open door to play the sympathy card, and it seems everyone longs for the attention that goes hand-in-hand with self-proclaimed oppression. So it is all too easy for the offender to cry victim and manipulate the situation.
By nature, we are liars, it is easier to lie about our behavior, justify it, or brush it off as a misunderstanding than to own our wrongful actions, apologize, and try to find a way to grow from the wrong we’ve done. Oftentimes, we are so proud and self righteous that we would rather damage our well-being than admit fault.
I was just that. For so long I would have rather lied about the color of my own shirt when it was plain as day to everyone the true color then tell the truth. If I thought covering up the truth would make me look better, I would lie. If I thought twisting the truth would avoid confrontation, I would lie. As difficult as it was, it took finally choosing the truth to understand that it could liberate me, and set me free.
Recently, I was volunteering at a faith-based daycare and witnessed another volunteer get extremely frustrated with one of the children. During a disruptive fit, she forcefully grabbed him and called him an a$$ hole, then hauled the 3-year-old out of the room for the remainder of the morning.
After a few days of processing I thought it would be best to let one of the leaders know what had happened that day. The leaders of this organization discussed it and decided to confront the volunteer about her behavior. Lo, there is no evidence to back hearsay, so when confronted, this volunteer dismissed it as a misunderstanding, that I heard her wrong. And that was the end, no justice for anyone. With a shoulder shrug accompanied by “there is nothing more we can do” everyone walks away wondering what the truth actually is. What is the point in speaking truth when it comes back to bite us?
I think the point is we try. We try to be a light in this dark world, to stand up for what is right even though society teaches to mind our own business and avoid confrontation. The point is that we confronted a situation that we could have easily turned away from. The point is that maybe, just maybe, by choosing to act boldly, we can change the way others choose to act in future difficult situations by witnessing our testimony.
It would be so easy to deem it justified: “I was volunteering my time and trying to do the right thing”, “he was being so naughty”, “it won’t ever happen again”, I could go on. But the problem with justifying and dismissing our wrong actions is that it becomes easier to do it again. She was not forced to own her actions and was not able to grow from her mistake. Instead, she chose a lie and faced no ramifications for her actions, which no matter how big or small the lie, is really dangerous… for herself, and for society.
The urge to lie in attempts to protect ourselves from what we know are the deserved consequences for our actions far outweighs the urge to be set free by the truth. Deceiving ourselves by our own lies about who we are and the things we have done puts us on the road to failure and sorrow. If we do it enough, we can even convince ourselves to believe in a new truth, one that we fabricated.
We all must try to be the change we wish to see for this world. To fully process and grieve our errors is the only way we can improve from them. To feel true conviction for our wrong-doing is the only way we can begin to grow. We must not lie about the things we have done, neither to ourselves nor to others. There will never be an improvement on the way these things play out if it doesn’t start somewhere, with someone. Owning our mistakes will set us free, clear our consciences, and allow us to walk away with our character built up, one step closer to who we really want to be.