Sunday, April 3, 2011

Standing Up

Yesterday I bought an orange shirt and matching pair of open-toe high heeled shoes. Being bold can be as simple a gesture as that. Or it can be something a little more, like standing up for someone who has been hurt. Especially when it is someone we know that has done the hurting.

Our society today is quite permissive; we try to understand or justify the reasons for every wrong that someone does instead of actually holding them accountable for their actions. But there is a simple truth: when we ignore behaviors that hurt other people, when we continue to socialize with those we know are doing unethical things, we are putting our stamp of approval on thier actions. We are saying "I think what you did is just fine....."

I once brought two friends together for a business situation that seemed to be a win-win situation for all. However, friend A took friend B's money, and quite alot of it, but never delivered the promised product. It took me a few months to realize that A just wasn't going to fullfill thier end of the deal, and I knew that, at some point, I needed to stand up for B. The easy way out would have been to say, 'That's between them.' But it wasn't just between them. I had brought them together, after all. I had trusted A, too.

So a few months later, when he called me with a business proposition that really was interesting, I told him "Sure, I'll work with you...AFTER you refund B her money. There's no way I can work with you until I can trust you, and I can't trust you right now because you gave your word to B, then took her money and ran. Until you right that wrong, I can't work with you or be social with you." He was startled, flabbergasted, angry...and I never heard from him again. Nor did he ever return B her money. Which I didn't expect, really. I just did what I knew was right. I stood up for B and also for the basic ethic of not promising what you can't deliver. It took courage, because until that incident, A had been one of my closest friends. But our words are our bonds, and our ability to keep our word is reflective of our character.

Standing up for someone who's been hurt by someone else is not about getting even...the cycle of karma has it's own way of divine justice. In this situation, A suffered a business loss a few months later, when karma appeared in the form of a product he ordered that did not arrive in time for a planned event. It was a disaster, for the entire event had been about selling that particular product.

B prospered very well, however. She found an honest, ethical person to enage in business with and has never looked back. She considers what happened with A a learning experience, as do I. We sometimes refer to him as 'The Snake-Oil Salesman,', a great old Southern phrase term that refers to the untrustworthy traveling salesmen of days gone by who would promise anything for a buck.

Being bold is often about doing what we know is right, whether it is standing up for a friend, or standing up to a friend, which is much, much harder. It takes courage...but doing what is right is always worth it.

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