Breaking Free - part II: Standing Up for Justice  

Posted by inkstainedhands in

In my previous post, I mentioned breaking free in terms of the choices you make -- not allowing others' perception of you stop you from being the person you feel you have to be and making the choices that are right for you. For me, breaking free has another component: being able to stand up for justice when you witness injustice.

In a way, it is easier to break free of the restraints other people impose on you when you are doing so for your own benefit, because you are frustrated enough with the way your life is that you are motivated to do something about it. There comes a point when you feel the need to stand up for yourself and say, "This is who I am; please understand that and stop telling me things like 'this isn't the person I know' or 'you aren't that kind of person.'" At some point you are able to tell people, "I'm sorry, but don't you think I would know what type of person I am better than you, since you don't know what goes on in my head?" When things like that happen, you feel a greater need to break free. The opinions of others matter to you, but not enough for you to keep sacrificing yourself and keeping your mouth shut.

But what about situations that are not about you but about someone else? While you would break free for yourself, would you do that for others? Would you consciously cast off the restraints that have shaped your life because your sense of justice is outraged by something you see happening to someone else? We're not talking about minor things, about telling someone off for some minor injustice. We're talking about issues that, if you take a certain stance, people are likely not only to judge you but to condemn and even attack you. While you would be motivated to stand up for what you believe in if it personally affected you, would you be brave enough to do that for other people? For the people in your life, and even for the people who are not in your life personally but are a part of the community you live in?

Fear keeps our mouths closed. We can believe in certain things, certain truths, we can mentally protest at the injustice that we witness, we can cry when we see what is happening, we can be passionate in our indignation, but are we brave enough to voice it? Or do we keep silent because our fear paralyzes us? Do we stand helplessly by as other people are hurt? When we know what is happening and every fiber of our being is protesting against it, why do we stand still? Are others' perceptions and expectations of us so important that we are willing to sacrifice truth, justice, honesty, and compassion? That we are willing to sacrifice people?

At what point do we ignore that fear and show where and with whom we stand, even when we know what kinds of reactions we will receive?

Breaking Free - part I  

Posted by inkstainedhands in , , , ,

Choices are not easy to begin with; you have to live with your choice and it can completely change the direction of your life, whether for good or bad. But at some point you feel ready to make that choice, because after much deliberation you have reached the conclusion that it is what is best for you. You've agonized, spent sleepless nights thinking, scrutinized all the choices before you, spoken to people who would understand where you're coming from. And you're ready. You're ready for yourself.

But you're not ready to be open about it, because the rest of the people in your life don't make it easy for you to make that decision even when you feel that it is right for the person you are, the person they have not yet gotten to know. It is a fact of life that people have a hard time reconciling the little child they knew to the person you are now. But the child they knew was only a product of his/her upbringing, still unable to make informed decisions at crucial moments. They were used to this child; this child did what he/she was expected to do, the child's ideals were in line with the adults' ideals, and aside from the occasional lapses in behavior, everything was fine.

The problem begins when the child becomes his/her own person, learns, reads, is exposed to new ideas, experiences the world, sees firsthand what life is about, meets new people, and starts to create his/her own understanding of how life should be lived.

This is about someone who is finding a place in the world, who wants to live with eyes and heart wide open. Naive? Idealistic? Perhaps. But also introspective, thoughtful, informed? Yes.

Children, as they grow up, need to be given space to be themselves. If you try too hard to choke them with your own truths, you will alienate them. But so many people don't understand this. They cannot accept it when they see that you are becoming your own person, making your own choices. They don't know you; they don't see what is going on inside your head. All they see is the child they knew.

That makes it more difficult to be the person you want to be, the person you know with every fiber of your being is you. You become so caught up with others' perception of you that you begin stunting your own growth. And that's not good.

At some point, the time comes to break free -- to be honest, to be truthful, to talk to people and know that you can be yourself; you do not have to pretend to be the person others expect you to be. Being honest with yourself is not enough; you have to be honest with the people in your life, with the world, both in your daily face-to-face interactions and your writing or whatever other forms of self-expression you may want to use.

Breaking free -- what does it mean to you?


Posted by inkstainedhands in ,

It is written in corners of pages

Always at the very back of notebooks

A place none but I flip through

A truth none but I see.

It is drawn in the margins

So small it is barely seen

So insignificant it never matters

To none but to me.