I find it comical that in this day and age, a majority of people are still fearful to question others openly when they disagree with their beliefs and course of action. Sure, most people are very comfortable to challenge others behind their backs, but they do not have the testicular fortitude to do so directly. I believe it’s really becoming a terrible epidemic, and society is becoming nothing but “Yes men/women” to the folks viewed as “their” superiors. Sure, people will rally around a theme or position that is already supported and there is comfort in speaking up, but that comes with more of a “falling in line” discipline.
When I was working in corporate America (as my pal Joey likes to say, “Working for the Man”), I was often not very popular with other department heads. Quite often, I questioned their motives and direction if I felt they didn’t align with the goals of the organization. It’s very common that there are individual agendas within a company, and quite often they do not suit the success of the company, but rather the growth of the individual’s group. That is often viewed as ambition, but in my mind, ambition without common purpose is just greed. And as much as it has been glorified in the movies, greed is not good for anyone.
Just as detrimental to the mix is when others condemn folks for speaking out and questioning the powers of the so-called elite. Those who pander to the power are actually worse than the rule itself. I saw the Hunger Games because my son had read the book and wanted to see the movie. I thought it was very good and carried a powerful message. There are always folks who take control and try to force-feed a particular way of life. There are always folks who want to control the pieces and the game, but it is up to the individuals to gather up the courage to fight the injustices, even when they stand alone. Often, when you speak up against an established thought, you are classified as the malcontent, a rebel, and a jerk. Those adjectives could be correct, or you just might be correct.
With all the cliques, groups, clans and tribes that form for protection and comfort, we shouldn’t lose sight that most often, there are many correct answers to the problems we face, not just the ones that we lean to. I absolutely see the value of a close-knit group. I also know that there is no harm in not only challenging those outside your circle, but also those inside it. I believe it is our responsibility to challenge everything we strongly disagree with. My daughter tells us that her motto is “be yourself”, which is a very courageous concept for anyone, never mind a thirteen year old.
I know I am not the first to write about “questioning authority” and definitely not the first, or last, to actually do it. But I want to support the notion that it is not rude to question others. It’s not wrong to invoke debate. It’s not inappropriate to disagree with conventional wisdom. It’s time that more people get comfortable challenging others to their faces, and not just behind their backs. The latter just causes frustration and hate. I know that we all have been taught, “If you do not have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all” and there is definitely a place for that sentiment, just not to the extent that you do not speak up when you should.
Speaking up will come with some discomfort and rejection. But it is also liberating and constructive. Even though there are consequences for revealing your voice, it allows you to weed out those people who are not meant to be in your life from the ones who you are meant to be with. When you speak up, there will be times when someone says to you, “Who are you to challenge them or this?” That’s when you can be certain you are onto something; there are issues, and the person making the statement is small-minded or protective of the injustice. Everyone has the right to challenge any concept that they feel is unjust or not in the best interest of the common good. Over the course of time there have been many individuals who were scoffed at for speaking up against established concepts, only to be praised at a later date for bringing the injustices to light.
It’s been said that we are in the information age, which is true; unfortunately, an ample amount of it is misinformation. There are plenty of self-proclaimed experts putting a stake in the ground trying to make a name or a buck. Some peddling information that suits them, and others selling products not unlike those of the traveling snake oil salesmen of days gone by. It is for this reason that it is even more important to question what comes across your path and computer. It’s important to make certain of the legitimacy of the purveyor. We can operate with the notion of buyer beware, or we can point to the facts and track record of the authority.
I’m not promoting just being contradictories; I just believe that everyone should be their own person, think for themselves, and not shutter at the thought of questioning principles they believe to be wrong and exposing the phonies that perpetuate them. It’s important to know that the consequences for not speaking up are more destructive than the silence. If you are true to yourself and your thoughts, the backlash you receive will be minute compared to your happiness. The best policy is to be yourself.