OPINION — You know that we live in interesting times when the surest way to find a target on your back is to simply stand for something.
This is especially true when expressing a moral belief or passion that requires distinguishing between right and wrong. That’s when the enforcers of fashionable thinking are most likely to unleash their rhetorical dogs of war in order to punish and discredit those deemed guilty of thought-crime.
Keep in mind that the individual most likely to earn this ideological abuse isn’t someone who is agitating for power or control in order to impose his or her viewpoint on someone else.
Peaceful individuals trying to remain true to their deepest principles are labeled as “haters” or “dividers” for refusing to surrender their convictions. The only option they are given – besides aquiescing to the demands of their detractors – is to remain silent.
Given that each of us will, at some point, find ourselves standing at that uncomfortable crossroads of having to choose between the approval of the crowd and the approval of our conscience, here’s some food for thought.
It is entirely possible to stand for truth and light in a loving manner.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to avoid the inevitable opposition that will arise whenever we stand for something. As daunting as that may seem, it’s also an extremely reliable indicator that we are having genuine impact.
Think about it. When you hear revered names like Jesus, Rosa Parks, Sophie Scholl, Oscar Schindler or Martin Luther King Jr., can we deny their respective influences on the world around them?
What else do they have in common? All of them were hated, shouted down, ridiculed, threatened and, in some cases, murdered for refusing to abandon their beliefs.
The key difference between them and the angry voices who sought to silence them was that these individuals understood that blowing out someone else’s candle wouldn’t make their own shine brighter.
This is a marvelous rule of thumb to distinguish between those whose message brings us light and those who are simply spreading darkness. This distinction is less about judging the messenger’s heart and more about examining the fruits of what they are advocating.
Each of us has an inner fruit inspector that is perfectly capable of recognizing the difference between the folks whose purpose is to dominate others and those who seek to empower them. It’s called a conscience.
When we unlock the power of conscience and stand on principle, we can expect to be labeled as divisive for providing others with a tangible example of personal courage. Take another look at the names listed above and you’ll understand what I mean.
Ironically, the more these individuals suffered for their beliefs, the more they were able to speak with unmistakable moral authority. They didn’t waste time trying to gain the approval of their harshest critics.
They spoke their truth with love, took the unwarranted hits and remained focused on delivering their messages with zero concern for what others may have thought about them.
This is an invaluable lesson for anyone who risks becoming a target by choosing to be true to their beliefs.
Few things are as liberating as the realization that your critics are clear evidence that you are having impact. The staunchest critics often don’t even realize that by allowing you to live rent-free in their heads, they’re granting you honorary status as an authority figure in their lives.
By not returning railing for railing, you remain centered on what really matters – being a bearer of light who is more intent on softening hearts than dominating others. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to be on the receiving end of someone else’s antagonism, but that has always been the price for not surrendering your values.
The beauty of this approach is that when others come to recognize for themselves the truth and light for which you’re standing, they do so on their own terms and by their own choice. This is far better than simply intimidating them into acquiescence through a display of gorilla-like dominance.
The sad truth is that all of us have been brainwashed, to some extent. The systems that seek to keep us in thrall to them have indoctrinated us, from childhood, to reflexively doubt and punish those who deviate from their accepted groupthink.
Each of us is somewhere on the pathway that leads out of the forest of disinformation that surrounds us. We need to be patient with those who are behind us on that path and grateful for the footprints of those who are in front of us.
The battle playing out before us is part of a larger battle between light and darkness that has always existed. Never forget that those who’ve changed the world for the better, did so by choosing principle over popularity.
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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