Sometimes when interacting with someone I don’t know, I open my mouth to speak but no volume is given to my words, even if I have something worthwhile to say. Thanking someone for holding a door open, conversation at a supermarket checkout, saying “you’re welcome when someone kindly thanks me. Your opinion and the way you feel arr valid and worth sharing in the right situation. How to know a situation is the right one is less obvious and can be difficult to figure out.
The often used saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything” has some truth to it, though this also involves a process of discernment. We must point out inappropriate behaviour and speech when we see it, sometimes more forcefully needing to identify sexism, racism, any form of discrimination, stigma, and other unhealthy habitual behaviour. If you see it and feel up to saying so let the person know what they are doing is not OK, even if you don’t know them. Sometimes they may not even know how they are behaving is inappropriate. If you don’t feel like you can point it out, or that it might be unsafe to point it out then and there, take this knowledge forward and encourage change in situations you do feel able to.
Any time a power imbalance is created, even in the absence of a person who is having their power taken away, these negative behaviours are encouraged and can be perpetuated. A key to bringing about sustainable systemic change is to point out the small things. When someone makes a racist joke, when someone says “I don’t watch women’s sport,” or when someone expresses a commonly held stigma around mental illness, we must point it out and be willing to engage in a discussion if and when there is a response.
I don’t know everything about any subject. I am always willing to engage in the process of ako, to learn and teach to ensure greater understanding is reached cooperatively.
Seek to learn. Seek to grow. Seek improvement within yourself and others. Seek to be a better you each day. Life is not an easy road to travel but it is one worth travelling.
Be good, keep good, and sleep good, dear readers. Peace.