When I was thirteen I saw a boy having an epileptic seizure at school. He writhed and rolled around on the floor, and I just watched. I wanted to help, but no one else was helping, so I didn't either. Eventually he came out of the seizure and a teacher arrived. I had experienced 'bystander apathy' first hand, and I'm not proud of it. The concept of bystander apathy - which refers to witnesses of a problematic event who do nothing when they could or should - has grisly and horrific origins. We have all witnessed some form of abuse that takes place in our lives. Humiliation, put downs, exclusion and hate are all forms of bullying that occur on a daily basis. We have all been silent when we were unsure about what to do or say in a situation within our family, our circle of friends, or our community. We all know what it feels like to miss an opportunity to help someone and what it feels like to safely say something or do something that has a positive impact on someone in our lives. Imagine a time when we will be able to count on our friends and family and those in our community to stand with each other against sexual violence and all forms of hate and to actively promote healthy relationships.
Moral courage plays itself out daily, hourly, in all the interactions of our lives.
The courage to be honest, to be fair, to be respectful, to be responsible, and to be compassionate.
And if the word values is in some way equal with convictions, then moral courage is, as it’s often characterized, “the courage of your convictions” in these five key areas.
Of what use is a code of ethics that hangs on the wall, unimplemented? Without the courage to act, honorable conviction is pointless.
I would argue that finding ways to establish and enhance a culture of moral courage is surely one of the noblest goals of humanity.
Within this next week you will potentially witness a act of hate against a child, a adolescent a woman, a elderly person or any member of our community and you will have to make a decision. No one deserves to be abused by another person. Every human being has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. No exceptions.
Today is the day we should all start recognizing the opportunity we have as a collective group and begin to change our thinking that has been distorted with a daily dose of mean and degrading television, a culture of violence, the humiliation of others for fun and demeaning another human being because they different.
I will never again stand by and watch someone be hurt without doing something. What about you?
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!