Take A Stand? Or Let It Slip?

It’s hard to know when to take a stand and when to let it slip.

A friend called me one day. She was seeking some understanding and support. This is what she said. "I like to help kids in their entrepreneurial endeavors. I always buy cookies from the girl scouts when they come to my door, even though I don’t need or like them. I buy them and use them to treat the children when they visit me. When I saw this young lad at my door, I smiled at him. ‘Okay, what are you selling.’ He looked like my grandson. And I turned him away."

My friend began to sob as she went on with her story. "He was just a young lad. Full of hope. All he wanted was for me to buy a few candy bars–so he could go on some trip or another. I was the old lady–the ‘witch’, who said, ‘no’. It broke my heart to see him walk off with his shoulders drooping. He was a Boy Scout. I really didn’t like being nasty. What I actually said to him was, ‘I’m sorry. I simply cannot support an organization that discriminates against homosexuals.’ He was just a boy, it wasn’t his fault…."

My friend was obviously distraught as she told me her story. I didn’t know how to respond. Her question rolled around in my head. I didn’t sleep well that night. When is it important to make a point, and when is it important to look the other way, and let it pass? We don’t always have to make issues of things, wear our beliefs and our values up front, on our sleeves, so to speak. This was a vulnerable young boy! Was she right or wrong to do what she did?

My friend’s words echoed in my mind, "I have my integrity. I wouldn’t support the boy scouts under any circumstances. There’s no question about that! But, I could have been kind. I could have lied. I could have said I don’t care for candy, or I have too much candy in my cupboard already–I didn’t. I didn’t choose to be kind. I chose instead to say something that I hoped would make the boy think–to ask questions…. I guess I’m a bad person." I heard both the compassion and the self-recrimination in her voice.

Then, she asked me, "Will he get together with his friends and throw eggs at my house?" And went on to quickly add. "No, I don’t think so. He looked like such a nice boy. He looked like he was confused, but he would be kind. I guess that’s why I felt so bad."

So, readers, what do you think? When should we just zip the lip, and when should we take a stand?

—M. LaCourt

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