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Stand Up?

No, not the comedy kind, but I knew that would get your attention.  As much of a comedian and sarcassanova as I tend to be, this is a partially serious one.

How many of us stand up?

Think about it. No, not literally! I mean standing up to oppression. Calm down, I’m not trying to save the world here. Or maybe I am, one bitch at a time.

Here’s the story: I was at a wedding recently where a person at our table shouted at someone on the wait staff and demanded that she gets what she asks for. We were all shocked, first thinking that it was a joke or that she knew him. Of course we all knew that that was not true, but humans tend to think the best of people, I suppose. Or we didn’t want to be the one to stand up against her.

Later on everyone was discussing how inappropriate this person was and that it was so rude of her. But still, none of us said anything! The appropriate response to this only came weeks later when I realised that I should have said something along the lines of “That is NOT cool. You don’t speak to him that way!” and so on.

This made me realise how often people like this get away with this type of behaviour.  Many of them do not realise that they act this way and go on with their lives unaware. Why do we not speak up and stand up?

Because we are scared of being different?

I think back on events such as the (here we go) Holocaust and other such events. Here in SA we had Apartheid (I know, I know, I’m sorry. I’ll conclude soon) which took off at a rapid speed. How many people look back now and wish they had stood up and went against the grain? We all can’t be large scale activists, I suppose, but doing nothing at all builds up and allows for momentum such as the aforementioned events in history.

Even closer to home and to our time are the on-going xenophobic attacks against foreigners in the townships. People who fought for their freedom are rallying against people who want the same.

But that’s not our problem, right? We don’t need to worry about foreigners and people in townships. Well, at least not until they start invading our lives. Then we stand up. Oh boy, will we stand up!

So why not do something small regularly.  We can’t point the finger unless we do something ourselves. And I’m not talking about the debit order every month to your local charity. That’s great, but an even smaller thing to do: tell people to watch their tongues when they are being assholes. Sure you won’t be popular and many might think you’re a killjoy, but where’s the fun in being good?

***

On a different note, you can also stand up by just helping others. Recently I realised how often I say no. This is something that I preach against and to which I stay true reasonably often. But as I filled up at the petrol station, a homeless guy asked for change. I did my usual puppy dog “I’m a poor student” face as I patted my jacket pockets and mouthed “I’m sorry”. That’s right; I didn’t even roll down the window.

I’m not saying you should put your safety at risk. Don’t stop for a beggar as you open your bag, get your wallet out, look for a coin and then get it snatched out of your hand as you cry and prepare to sue me. No, don’t do that.  But if you have a coin in your pocket, as I had, give it!!

That is standing up, in a way and helps others. Like my Medical Anthropology lecturer said, “If you have, just give”. If they use it for drugs, that’s ok because that will bring them comfort at the time. Until we solve bigger problems, they are still on the street, hungry and homeless.

So that was my huge digression, but I think (hope?) you get the point. We don’t need to be an icon to change our worlds. Do something small all the time and stand up for the better.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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