First of all, Happy Thanksgiving. On account of the holiday, which is one of my favorites, I decided I would take a break from my 12 Rules for Life series and go over something that has been on my mind for the last few weeks.
As cliche as it is, we have about a million things to be thankful for and the holiday season is for celebrating family and all that you have to be thankful for. Now I love my family more than anything, but that’s not what I want to talk about today. The thing I am thankful for today, is free speech. That’s a pretty general idea, because free speech can cover so many different things and is used differently by so many people that share this inalienable right.
I have talked on the show before about a particular line from Dr. Jordan B. Peterson’s book, “12 Rules For Life”, the book I have been doing my blog post series on the last few months. The line is ” When you have something to say, silence is a lie. And tyranny feeds on lies.”, and when I read this line, it genuinely almost brought me to tears. I have never heard or read a single idea that I hold more true in my life, and I was then filled with overwhelming pride and patriotism for living in a country where free speech is guaranteed and protected for every human being born in this country, or legally immigrated and nationalized here.
I wouldn’t be where I am if I wasn’t honest. And I don’t mean just in the sense of not lying, but I am honest with myself. I am and always have been the type of person to follow my gut. Everything from a conversation with a superior at work to a mushroom trip, if it doesn’t feel right in my stomach I don’t do it. All of my actions and choices are things I will have to live with from the moment I execute them through the end of my life and I take that very seriously. Guilt is a fuel for my life. It’s a feeling I have never found a way to eradicate once it has infected my soul so I do everything to lead a life where I can avoid it, even by not leaving things unsaid.
That’s the part that I think I took most from this particular line from Dr. Peterson’s book, don’t keep yourself silent. That isn’t to say that there isn’t a place or time to have certain conversations, but they should be had and in an expedient manner. Having a family fight at your place of employment is not a good idea if you would like to continue to be employed there. But if you had a friend, or even worse a family member, who is treating you poorly then what do you have to lose by speaking up? Nothing. And at the end of the day YOU are the one that will have to deal with the feelings that resulted from that mistreatment. If your husband/wife is short and snappy when they get stressed out and YOU don’t like it, why should you not speak up? Why should you be subject to mistreatment? These are feelings that YOU will have to deal with.
Injustices is a word I use often, which sounds probably a little bit douchey. But for me it is an umbrella term that I use to describe anything that violates my fairly well-defined morals or gives me that stomach-sinking feeling I have only ever been able to relate or compare to guilt. That can be anything from poor treatment by a partner or family member like I was talking about, to blatant and disgusting corruption in the government, to being kicked out of Dave and Busters because Justin Bieber wanted to rent the place out. It’s things like these, Injustices, that I don’t think people should be silent about. That’s the ideal that got Colin and I into this podcast. That’s the ideal that leads people to be very selective of the time and subjects in which they ask for my opinion. It’s the ideal that leads me to not get along with people who speak with little insight or information into what they are speaking about.
A lot of people I have come across may enjoy this quality as an idea but not exactly the way it looks or feels when done. It’s almost never easy. To this day even when I get that guilty feeling and know I have to do or say something, I feel conflicted. It is simply a matter of self preservation to not want to have conversations with people that they probably won’t enjoy or to put yourself in an uncomfortable position, but that doesn’t make it right. The right thing to do is almost never easy. If it was, everyone would do it.
I’m not saying this is the right thing to do because it probably isn’t for everybody. It isn’t going to make you friends all of the time. A lot of times it is really really frustrating to identify and be bothered to care about the injustices you see in the world, but keep your eyes open makes it easier to see what you can do to help correct them, and that’s what honesty is to me. It’s not only something I can do to keep myself sane and guilt free, but I’m becoming increasingly certain that it’s what I can do for other people. So on this day of thanks I am going to break the mold and ask for something from everyone reading this; Be honest with someone today. If someone is rude to you because of an event you didn’t cause, be understanding but tell them that is not acceptable. If you hear someone say something you KNOW is incorrect (especially politically) say something. Correct them because it could change their mind. If you feel strongly that Saudi Arabia is not a place where America should have money and that The President is wrong, tell someone who challenges that idea.
People are surprisingly accepting of almost anything you tell them, as long as you say it the right way. Say it with confidence and care and concern, not with anger or spite. Be honest not to prove someone wrong or put them down, but for self preservation. YOU are the one that has to live with your choices and feelings. YOU have to decide if you were true to yourself and your morals. Honesty in all areas of life is liberating. And so I will leave you with the same line that has inspired me so deeply before I had even read it, but once articulated and presented to me I knew was to be my mantra for life. “If you have something to say, silence is a lie. And tyranny feeds on lies.”