Thursday, January 29, 2009

Taking a Stand

For some individuals, taking a stand may be as easy as tying shoelaces. A shy, soft-spoken seventh-grader, I personally found taking a stand extremely challenging. In English class, I sat in the back left corner of the room with my best friend Tia, at a rectangular table that comfortably seated two. She sat to my right. On Tia’s left, in a desk about five feet away, sat Nick, a typical, self-absorbed jock. During a class discussion one day, Tia asked a simple question to which, apparently, most of the class knew the answer.

“You’re stupid,” Nick laughed. Tia immediately fell silent; I could read her expression. She winced in pain that was not physical, but emotional. She wanted to disappear at that moment to another place, any place where she would not be forced to endure Nick’s thoughtless comments. He realized he was hurting Tia, yet his verbal abuse was relentless.

“Tia, you are so stupid!” he continued. I fought internally with myself, knowing I should speak up to defend Tia but unable to find the courage. Then I wondered how I could sit there and not say anything. I knew I had waited too long. My best friend visibly struggled to contain tears, and I sat right beside her as though I was oblivious to the entire situation. I should not have had to think about it that much; my duty was clear.

“No she’s not,” I argued, “She’s not stupid.” Nick shut up instantly, not because of what I said, but because of the fact that I had spoken up at all. Tia looked at me with eyes that were both grateful and relieved. Even though I hesitated for too long, I was proud of myself for finally supporting my friend. Sure, a lot of bravery and initiative is involved, but taking a stand is definitely worth the cost.

Looking back, I find this situation pretty insignificant, but at the time I thought it was a big deal.