I have been told (by my mother, to be precise) that I have a tendency to over-think, over-analyze, and get upset by things that just “are.” I love my mom like crazy. I absolutely, completely and whole-heartedly disagree with this type of philosophy. In fact, I hold that sentiment responsible for screwing up this country.
In 1995, I took a trip up to New York City to visit with my older brother. At the time, he was a law school student at Brooklyn Law. We took a ride in the subway from Borough Hall Station to Houston St. Station to visit (something….I can’t remember what). But I DO remember the events that took place. My brother turned IN my diamond ring so no one would notice it. I sat down, my brother on my left, and a little geeky guy with a pocket protector and a backpack on my right. We were at the end of the car, and there was a large guy laying across the seats with a wad of cash in his hands, seemingly asleep. The car moved forward, no one looked at each other. No one really spoke or greeted each other, in fact, it was quite the opposite. You could feel the tension from people restraining themselves from making eye contact. It was, to this Southern girl, weird.
Suddenly, the large man at the end of the car jumped up and yelled at the geek sitting next to me, “You try to take my money?!” The geek, caught so off guard, just helplessly said, “No.” The big guy shoved his cash into his pockets, then grabbed the geek by his shirt and literally picked him up, feet dangling off the ground. I looked around….no one said a word.
I jumped up and yelled at the big guy, “Put that geek down! He didn’t touch you! Put him down!” My brother almost died – he grabbed my arm and yanked me back into my seat and told me to “SHUT UP!” and that I can’t get involved. I was shocked…and disgusted. The large man continued to yell and shake the little geek, and then dropped him once the train stopped and got out.
I’m the first to admit that I don’t have a “flight” mechanism. I’m a principle fighter, and believe in doing the right thing, no matter the consequence. I may be too confrontational, even, and I love a good debate. I don’t get angry, per se…..I simply like the process of understanding. I’ve changed my views even, when I’m confronted with facts, data, and information that completely discredits my own initial perceptions. When it comes to my fellow man, I have a hard time backing down when I feel someone is violated, and don’t back down when it’s my children or myself. The question that lingered for me after that subway experience is, “Why don’t you care?”
I remember a high school history teacher, Mrs. Makely, who said to me once in class, “People don’t notice or care unless it’s in their own back yard.” As time has gone by, I am dismayed to realize how right she was.
I challenge my readers, when the time comes that you are faced with the option to stick your head in the sand, or stand up for someone else (or yourself) that you choose the latter, even if it goes against the grain of you non-confrontational nature. After all, if you aren’t willing to stand up – what do you really stand for?