If you choose to do so, your words and deeds can reflect the best version of you. They will ultimately mirror your character: your true nature. It is your choice to speak or act, and when you do, you are sending the world around you a message about “who you are”. Furthermore, your words and deeds reveal the beliefs and standards that are central to your character. You are sending a message that these words and deeds represent “who I am” and “what” is important to me.
If you are not careful, and make foolish choices with your words, you will harm others – as well as yourself. If you then add to this by acting out of character, it compounds the hurt for all. You are transmitting a message; good or bad, your words and deeds are an extension of you.
In many respects, the only situation with the potential to do more harm and be more devastating is choosing not to speak up or failing to act when you alone stand between right and wrong. Choosing to remain silent and responding with inaction strips your character of its power and you of the authority to do the right thing.
When the truth needs to be told, you cannot remain silent. When you hear rumors you know to be false, you need to shine the light of truth on them and speak up. When someone says something hurtful and disparaging about a friend or another, you cannot allow that to hang in the air to be carried along to all that will listen. You need to set the record straight and come to their defense.
Choosing to be silent when a lone voice of truth and reason needs to be heard harms everyone involved. It sends to all a message that gossip, rumor and lies are acceptable. It states to all that there are no standards, that anything goes, and words have absolutely no value. It says words are simply things to be thrown around as needed, without thought, without any consequence.
Choosing to be silent emboldens disrespect and dishonesty. It invites others to join in the fray, throwing more words and adding to the harm. Choosing not to speak up undermines the power of your character, and the authority you have to stand up for what is right. There are times when the world needs to hear from the best version of you. If the voice of your character is not there to cut through the noise, it will create a deep hole in all of us. There there will be a disconnect, a mounting sense of loss and soon, despair. Those that bear the brunt of these verbal attacks, those that deliver it and those that let it happen are all changed by this, for the worse – forever.
When decisive action is warranted to protect someone else, serve their immediate needs or render assistance, it has to happen. You wouldn’t let your best friend try drugs right in front of you – would you? When someone is in trouble and obviously needs your help, you wouldn’t look the other way and walk past them – would you? Why allow someone to deface your school, take someone’s belongings or bully another? Don’t all of those situations merit your immediate action?
Choosing to avoid these challenges is akin to remaining silent. Your inaction sends the message that drugs, vandalism or intimidation are all acceptable standards of behavior. Your inaction hurts everyone involved. It tells the person trying the drugs that you don’t care they are screwing up their life. It shows the person that is in trouble that you have more important things to do than lend a hand. Your reaction of inaction states to the person being bullied that it is their problem, and encourages the bully to keep it up, as long as it is not you.
Never underestimate the power of your character and the authority it brings in standing up for what is right. When you give voice to the best version of you, the authority behind “No, that is not right” carries with it the mass of your character. Those five little words might be all that it takes to dispel a rumor, end a lie or change a heart if say it like you mean it. “Walking the talk” with conviction and authority will show others in no uncertain terms that something needs to “Stop”, because it is not right. The mass of your character in deed has considerable power and generates incredible momentum for good.
Always choose to send the right message.