Thursday, August 11, 2011

What I'll Do for Respect

Inspired by Heather, who was inspired by Darcie, I feel inspired to touch on a topic that I agree wholeheartedly needs to be touched on more.


In particular, respect of other people and their space and property when you’re out in public. And more specifically, how willing are you to speak up when you feel an injustice is being committed?

Darcie has found a great method for getting people to take her seriously – you’ll have to read her post to see. I’m not sure that I have a specific method, but I have had my moments. One in particular happened in a movie theater. There was a family a few rows down with a child that was a tad young for the particular movie we were seeing. Over time he began getting a little louder, and his parents were trying to quiet him. (Let it be noted that there was a mother, a father, a grandmother and maybe even an aunt.) He was clearly not handling the movie well, and I couldn’t say I blamed him. But what got me was when their shushing turned physical. Out of nowhere he was being shaken by the father, who was now trying to drag him out of the theater. It was immediately clear that the little boy was scared and was trying to hang onto his mother, which only made the father angrier, which led to further physical harm.

I couldn’t take it. I could feel something like the child’s fear welling up inside me, and just when I couldn’t take it anymore, I started yelling, “Stop it! Stop it!” They all turned around and looked at me, and I simply said, “He’s not bothering us. You don’t have to do that.” That’s when the grandmother got up and walked out with the little boy, and the father hightailed it out, too. The boy didn’t look afraid of the grandmother, so I fretted less, but part of me wondered if the father would be waiting for me when we exited the theater. (He wasn’t – whew.)

That kind of confrontation isn’t something I do often, so a few minutes later I was crying in my seat, trying to calm down. I felt surprised that nobody else spoke up, and at the same time, surprise that I had. I’ve spoken up before when someone dared to use a racial slur in my house, but to raise my voice to strangers in a room full of more strangers? Somewhat daunting! Nevertheless, I would do it again.

Recently my kids and I have taken to sometimes watching, “What Would You Do?” on Friday nights. It’s an incredible show that gives you the opportunity to think about how you would handle being witness to things like racism, lying or bullying. My hope is that it will instill in my kids a sense of justice and the desire to do the right thing. The last thing I would ever want them to do is stand idly by while someone is being bullied.

My direction for this topic took a bit of a turn from what I think I was originally intending, but I like where I ended up. If you get a chance, watch What Would You Do? and ask yourself the same questions we did. I know I certainly don’t want to end up on camera as one of the people that looked disgusted but then walked away. That’s an episode nobody is proud to say they were on – “Hey, Betty, check out the part where someone was trying to steal a bike in broad daylight. Watch as I help the person cut the lock!” Good times.

1 comment:

Such The Spot said...

This story gave me chills, Merrie. Especially the part about you feeling the child's fear. I'm so glad you spoke up for that child. You may very well be the only one ever to have done so. :( My story definitely pales in comparison.

I've not heard of that show. I'll have to check into it because it sounds like one of the few things families can sit down to watch together.