Raise Your Hand
by Arleen M. Kaptur

There are so many issues in today's world that every person must choose a thousand times over what side they are on, who they prefer, what they want to eat, and where they will spend a week-end, to name just a few choices.

Sometimes we yearn for someone to tell us what to do and where to go, but in our hearts we know that we do relish the freedom, even though at times it does become oppressive. Even at a very early age, decision making is instilled in our children - what video do you want to watch, ketchup or mustard, blue or red, etc. There is an endless array of rearranging and reshaping almost every aspect of life so that it "fits" just perfectly into our scheme of things.

If everyone in the here and now are barraged with choices then why does everyone sit quietly by and let transgressions, errors, and omissions occur when they do have an input and they are part of the solution? Is it because at an early age parents taught the young "not to rock the boat" or "make waves." Could be - but this passiveness does not create solutions nor does it allow corrective change to take place. So what is the right road?

In every history book in school, it seems that countries, nations, and individuals have made mistakes, and we, the future generations, are suppose to learn from their mistakes. That is the legacy they left behind - a learning experience of what not to do, when not to wait, and where to put that period or question mark. Yet, as adults, as parents, as educators, and as "people", we hem, haw, and stagger. We don't let our ideals out just in case they may not agree with that of our neighbor, or worse yet, a bit of who we are may peek out. You certainly wouldn't want to invite a lawsuit by encroaching on someone else's feelings or beliefs; yet, in essence, your silence is doing just that. You are encroaching on your own freedom, your own opinion, and your own special gift to make a difference.

Whether you believe the government is making a wrong decision, your bank made an error on your checking account statement, or your school is not teaching your child the survival skills they need as an aspiring adult, by not saying anything you actually speak volumes. Your silence makes it known that the status quo is fine with you, and that you have no qualms about future decision by an administration, an agency, or a company.

You are served a bad meal, a product you paid for is inferior, or your state is punishing victims instead of criminals - the list is endless. If you are not one to speak openly - the pen is many times mightier then the sword; if you are shy, letting others use their rights to infringe on yours is paving the way for others to hide and run away from situations, and worse yet, future generations will read about "no comment" and take it to heart as more individuals and countries lose their basic human rights and so may some of your future relatives.

For your own sake - raise your hand, speak up, and throw that stone in and cause that ripple - it just may save countless others from unspeakable atrocities and might bring equality and good will a step closer to reality. What is the worst that can happen - others may hear you and, because of you, find the courage to take life and make it better for everyone. Now that is most definitely a loss we all can live with. ENJOY!

©Arleen M. Kaptur 2004 March
Please visit Arleen's site at: http://www.arleenssite.com

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