Counselor's Corner: The courage to stand up and protect


Last week I witnessed a woman with amazing courage. We often travel to our summer getaway which is our RV in a campground for permanent RVs in Port Austin, Michigan. The other evening a man was screaming at his two young sons, who were between 10 and 13. The screaming was getting louder and louder. It sounded so abusive, I thought to myself, “Maybe I should walk over there and say something.” All of sudden the woman in the RV next to us, Jennifer, a Macomb County probation officer, walked over to this man’s RV and gently said to the boys who had come out onto their deck, “Are you all right? Are you being physically harmed?” Immediately everything stopped. The boys said that they were all right. For the rest of the day there was no more yelling from that RV.

I went over and told Jennifer how inspired I was to see what she had done in such a caring and gentle manner. She had such courage and compassion. She let those boys know that they were cared for. She let the father know that behavior like his was not acceptable. She did it without yelling or screaming but she had the courage to stand up and be emotionally protective to two young boys who were being emotionally abused by their father’s screaming.

I later thought to myself, “I wish I would have done that.” Jennifer taught me a lesson of the importance of standing up when abuse is happening before our eyes.

The courage to stand up and be protective of the vulnerable is so very important. This woman who has two teenage sons, knew how to do this. Her courage is something we all need today. She spoke kindly and gently but she stood up. She had the courage to go out of her comfort zone and do what was right.

In a world where abusive words and actions can be used so quickly, it takes courage for people to stand up and confront this behavior. So often this does not happen. I kept wondering what I would have felt if this man had physically harmed his sons and I had not said anything. This man is now on alert that abusive behavior will not be tolerated. But it was done in such an open, kind and honest manner.

We all need a woman like Jennifer in our lives to speak the truth in a loving and protective way.

When evil is tolerated without any loving and protective confrontation, then evil can be overpowering. When abusiveness is permitted everyone becomes vulnerable. When love is absent for the vulnerable, then every person in the world becomes at risk to be abused.

When the powerful in the world have no system of checks and balances, we all suffer. Checks and balances come not so much from rules and regulations, which are certainly necessary, but they come first from courageous people standing up and confronting and speaking the truth about what is happening.

When a society minimizes its weaker members and blames them for being weak, that society then becomes authoritarian. This can easily happen in any family, any community and in any nation.

This is why we always need courageous people to stand up with the courage to speak the truth in a loving and compassionate manner.

Ghandi spoke the truth. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke the truth. Dag Hammerskjold, former Secretary General of the United Nations spoke the truth.

Dorothy Day, a social activist spoke the truth. All of these famous people spoke the truth in a kind and loving manner and suffered for it. And then there is Jesus Christ who spoke the truth about loving everyone and died for it. In all religions there are men and women who spoke the truth lovingly and honestly and died for it.

Each of us will be called on to speak the truth someday in a compassionate and courageous manner. When this happens to you, pay attention and act upon it. “What the world needs most is Love Sweet Love.” We need more Jennifers in this world.


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