The provoker and the provoked are treated in the same manner in our current PC culture. Most people think they have a right to do whatever they feel like doing in a society with little consensus on moral values. This lack of consistency in dealing with the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior is confusing. People are becoming paralyzed in social situations when obnoxious and harmful behaviors occur. This unwillingness to express our disapproval of destructive behaviors has weakened the distinction between right and wrong.
Yet most people find it easier to speak up for someone else’s rights than for their own. They are under the misconception that it is beneath them to defend themselves. This is wrong because standing up for oneself often will teach the other person what he is saying or doing is inappropriate. This direct intervention might be enough for a future instigator to be taught a lesson that will stop a bully in his tracks.
When an individual is being unfairly treated by another he should stand up to the culprit or it will encourage the person to continue his abusive behavior towards him as well as others. Ignoring offensive behavior will result in many other people being treated in the same abusive manner. The non-confronted offender will become even more emboldened in his negative behavior. Offenders can be a peer, a superior or in this modern culture, a youngster.
Too often children can be tyrants to their parents. It is important the parents send their child the message that they will no longer tolerate demeaning or harmful behavior. This should definitely include not following parent’s directions. If children learn they can disregard or even disrespect their parents, all other authority figures will be tested and many will be put in uncomfortable situations due to the parent’s negligence. Parental neglect is not only about what not to do, but what to do in specific circumstances. It is not unusual for a child to attempt to boss another child around. A youngster has to be taught the social skills to say “no” to his peers. The child who accepts unconditionally the commands of another is put in jeopardy of getting in trouble.
The ultimate fault for the child’s ignorance in imitating bad behavior has to be attributed to parents not emphasizing that another child cannot give him permission to countermand an action that the parents said was wrong in the first place. The old parents standby, “ If your friend told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it?” Contrary to modern permissive materialistic child rearing, children who receive consequences for inappropriate behavior are not being abused or in danger of becoming conformists. They will learn right from wrong. These moral values will give strong convictions to stand up to others who want to force them to violate their values. This will prevent them from copying obnoxious behavior.
These same skills are needed when a young adult enters the workplace. He has to possess convictions of right and wrong. It takes a person with a strong moral character to analyze complex social situations. He has to be able to discriminate between being exploited or if it is normal behavior in the environment. He has to determine whether a supervisor is blatantly not following normal operating procedures or is unfairly discriminating against him. A supervisor being inappropriate with his subordinates needs to be corrected. A person who accepts unfairness in the workforce is doing everyone a disservice.
The same way a child is unwittingly sanctioning other children being mistreated by his acceptance of abusive behavior, passive adults often do the same thing. Tolerance of bad behavior leads to an increase in the level of it. When someone refuses to be mistreated, he is setting a high standard of decency that positively affects the lives of others around him. This straightforward person might be overlooked for a promotion based on his seeming lack of finesse and political skills in a corporate environment. Nevertheless, he will be respected by others and will gain inner strength knowing he has done the right thing.
In an entrepreneurial position the individual’s decisiveness and competency will allow him to shine. Instead of a hindrance to his advancement it would become an asset. Inner-directed people usually have firmly established principles based on a strong moral compass that allowed them to be decisive and correct in their choices. No advancement or monetary reward should seduce an individual to accept being abused by anyone. Personal dignity cannot be bought with dollars. Creating a positive path for others by standing up for good and right in the long run is the best spiritual way to go.
Anyone who has the courage to stand up does more than protect him, he inspires others to do the same. This individual is a wonderful role model for establishing a healthy and peaceful community. Strong individuals can lead others to stand up for themselves thus giving the weakest among us the strength to do the same.
Domenick J. Maglio, Phd. Traditional Realist