Monday, October 6, 2014
31 Days of Courage: Speaking Up When You’d Rather Walk By
I love candles. That has very little to do with today’s post, except that it’s why I was in the mall on Sunday when I hate going to the mall, especially on a Sunday.
But my tea lights had reached critical mass and this is the time of year I burn, burn, burn. I buy those little guys in bulk and dirt cheap at the Christmas Tree Shop, where I thought I’d go in and out…but it never turns out that way.
I wanted to get my son’s darling girlfriend a little birthday gift, so I headed toward one of those big department stores that give me agita with a little something in mind for her. And on the way I passed a smaller store for the younger set called PCX Clothing, short for Pocket Change Exchange. Glancing at the display windows I was stopped short by a black shirt with big gold letters shouting out the following:
You Can’t Sit With Us
At first I think I was too shocked to process the thing. Then, right on queue, my cowardly self reminded me how badly I wanted to blow this popsicle stand, and how it was Sunday and lovely outside and I still had to get a present for Nicoleen. But that shirt infuriated me.
I got about 20 yards down the concourse and decided I didn’t want to be a hypocrite here on day 6 of 31 Days of Courage. So I turned my I-can’t-stand-confrontation self around and walked to the cashier’s counter. Two young girls asked if they could help me and I asked for the store’s phone number and the main address of the company. Then I asked them if they’d like to know why.
When I explained the reason, they listened attentively. In fact one of the girls mentioned that a young man had come in 20 minutes earlier with his girlfriend and suggested she buy the shirt. Apparently the young woman said to her boyfriend “that’s kind of like bullying.” Bingo.
Companies have a right to produce whatever they want. This is America after all. But we have a responsibility to voice the truth in a respectful manner. We have a choice to let it go. Or not.
That shirt was mean spirited. Not funny. Not clever. Down right nasty.
I’m sure there would be someone who would read this and tell me to lighten up. That person likely never sat alone at a lunch table, or gladly wearied themselves in the discipling process to teach their children that it’s not ok to make people feel they don’t belong. Can you tell this particular issue strikes a chord in me?
I don’t like being thought of as a killjoy, a legalist or any other manner of prohibitionist. But there comes a point when what people think of us and what’s right are going to collide. In the middle of that collision, courage is ignited.
So before I sat down and wrote this post, I emailed PCX. And today (Monday) when the manager is in, I’m calling the store to voice my opinion. I’m pretty sure they won’t like hearing from me. But not as much as I don’t want to make the phone call. Regardless, I must.
Because as I said from day one, it’s going to be harder to live this thing out that to write about it. What’s the point of all this if I don’t change? Being a blowhard is not my goal.
“ He hath shown thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8
Listen, you and I aren’t William Wilberforce, laboring in Parliament for a lifetime to stop the slave trade in Great Britain. We can’t tackle every cause, even every one we care about. But isn’t there that moment, when a fire lights in your belly, and you simply know it’s time to be a tiny bit brave and speak light to the darkness? Maybe we won’t have a bonfire in our gut like Winston Churchill did in England to stand against evil, no matter the cost. But can we start with a little flame in our sphere of influence and do the next right thing?
Yeah, maybe this post was about candles after all.
Be brave my friends, in the small.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,