Over the last several weeks, I’ve been learning of some disturbing stories from people from all walks of life who’ve been attacked verbally, and a few who’ve actually been physically assaulted. These cases are many, and they are real, and I’ll even bet that most of you know someone who has been targeted (I refuse to say victimized) by the outrageous and unconscionable actions of those who can only be called thugs and bullies. These bad seeds appear to be pervasive, showing up unexpectedly, striking out at will, because now they feel entitled to do so—they’ve been given permission.
Yes, we seem to suddenly find ourselves in a time when people will do despicable things because they believe that truth, honesty, and integrity no longer matter, or worse, that those principles no longer have a place in modern life. It is up to all of us, and up to each of us, to stand for what is right. There are some people among us who look around at how being a pathological liar, a cheater, and a hate-filled bully has so recently been publicly rewarded, and have decided that if one person can get away with it in such an open, spotlighted way, then they can, too. As I said, they’ve been given permission.
This is a danger that is so elemental, so prevalent, that it truly can touch us all. We need to stand firm and stand ready to call out those who would abuse the rights of others, those who would practice their bullying openly on the unsuspecting, and those who would blatantly lie. This danger is real and it is serious, and it is urgent.
Words matter, my friends. The words we say, matter. They have power, more power than you can even imagine. You know the positive side of this truth. If we have words of encouragement and kindness for those who are struggling or suffering, our words lift their spirits and fill their hearts with love, and hope. I have seen this reality play out time and again in my years on this planet, and in my experience as an essayist. Many of you have written to me to tell me how my words have helped you, uplifted you, or encouraged you. The flip side of that coin, however, is just as true.
If our words are ugly, then they carry an ugly air to them, staining the atmosphere with such an ugliness that sinks into every nook and cranny of our lives and will thus eat away at the fabric of all that is decent. If our words are lies, again, those lies fill the atmosphere with an unreality that like a constant drip of caustic acid will burn away all that is true.
We will be left with a world filled with distrust and hate, teeming with untruths, and where nothing will be sacred—not our faith or our ideals, not our laws, not our most cherished historical documents, not even our lives.
We can no longer sit back and let things happen around us, trusting that saner minds and kinder spirits will eventually prevail. We are the saner minded and the kinder spirited. We must do all we can to ensure that our personal parts of this world—as in, everywhere we go and everyone we meet—is treated with kindness and respect. And when we see this bullying, this harassment, this blatant lying, we must stand up to it. We must use our sanity and our kindness to rebuke this unacceptable behavior. We must call out the liars among us every time they lie, no matter what office on earth they sit in.
I have often, in various of these essays over the course of the last ten years given examples of how one person taking action can make a difference. If I am kinder, saner, and stand up to the bullies and liars, and you do the same, and others reading these words do likewise, and all of us get others to do so as well? That, my friends, is an army. The future truly is ours to mould. What happens next really is up to us all. I reject the concept that we are all nothing but tiny little mice with no voice, no power, no hope. That we have no choice but to submit to the whims of the power-hungry and money-grubbers of this world.
We are mighty. We are powerful.
We are the hope of our future generations.