Speaking Your Mind When Your Opinions Are Unpopular

Dawn Bevier

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Author Dan Pearce makes a powerful statement when he says the following:

I will no longer let the fear of vicious comments or replies stop me from speaking what I believe to be right. I will also never give a message that everybody will agree with. I know that even my most faithful followers will never agree 100% with what I say. I also know that they know that and are fine with it. I am done letting the bullies win. They won’t anymore. Not here.”

For months, now, I’ve been afraid to air my views. I’m a people pleaser. Conflict avoidant. But when there’s more fear of harm from suppressing inner truths than of fighting outside forces, a decision must be made. And mine is to speak my truth.

These are my perceptions, and yours may be different. But it is my hope that by airing these feelings, I give voice to the many other silent voices that are lacking the courage to say the same things.

Mother Theresa said, “Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.”

So I’m following her words.

I don’t consider myself racist

No one can say who I am without knowing me, just as I cannot say who you are without knowing you. People are not a one size fits all when it comes to the color of their skin. I’ve learned this lesson by living for forty-seven years, but mostly, I’ve learned it through the children I see every day as a teacher. I see children based on color, yes, but the color of their spirit is where my impressions are formed about who they are as individuals.

I have seen white children who make me fear for the future and black children who make me have faith in a better tomorrow. I have had white children freeze my heart and black children thaw it. And the reverse is also true.

The bottom line is I choose to see people for who they are, not by the flesh that covers their skin. And that is not to downplay the ugly fact that many of my white ancestors have a long history of cruel and unjust treatment of others based on their color. But that is the history of the people who came before me, it is not my own personal history.

So know me first before you label me.

I don’t consider myself privileged

Again, I understand that history has afforded my color more opportunities, but in my own life, I have worked and scraped and scratched my way to where I am. I work twelve-hour days as a teacher for pay that often seems insulting. I have months where I can barely pay my bills, and so I use any means I can to make my life and my children’s lives better for the future. I tutor for low pay. I wake up at 4 am to write on the side to make sure my children can eat or so they can do to the doctor when they are sick. I fight for each dollar I make and each opportunity that comes my way. I have earned my place in life not by privilege but by perseverance.

I don’t hate men

I don’t hate men, but I do abhor people who are liars, abusers, manipulators, or who are cruel and insensitive. And let me tell you, I have seen just as many women fit that description as men. The bottom line? I refuse to despise a person simply because they have different genitalia than me, just as I refuse to despise people who have a different color than me.

And I understand that my negative experiences with a few men do not mean I should stamp the whole sex with a negative label.

As a free woman in America, the men who are condescending and sexist towards me require one of two actions. I can ignore them, leave their presence, and decide they are not worth my time and my misery, or I can fight like hell to prove them idiots. I usually do the latter as it is much more rewarding.

I am not offended when a man opens a door for me or says I look nice today. I do the same for women.

I was raised by a wonderful man who taught me to be strong, who changed his eighty-year-old mother’s diapers, who gives to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, who told me that I could be anything if I worked hard and persevered. And I will not vilify the exponentially large amount of men who are of the same character, who are faithful to their wives, loving fathers to their children, or simply excellent examples of what a person should be.

I will continue to judge the man, not men in general.

I don’t hate law enforcement

I think people who commit heinous and tragically fatal acts towards innocent people deserve the harshest of retributions, retributions equally or more horrible than the vile actions they committed. And that includes the evil officers whose names fill the media. It also includes the multitude of other officers of the law whose hidden acts of prejudicial cruelty have been used to lock innocent men away either in prisons or in coffins. There’s a special place in hell for them, and when they get there, I want front row seats.

But once again, I have also seen many kind policemen roam the halls of my schools ready to protect my children and me from danger. I have seen men in this profession throw themselves into dangerous situations to prevent the injury of others. I have heard tales from good officers that they now have to hide their police cars in the back of their homes because they fear danger will come to their family. I have seen grown men, good men with badges, break down and cry because others refuse to see beyond the fact that they wear a blue uniform, others who ignore the reality they went into their job to help people, not hurt them.

The bottom line:

The dictionary defines prejudice as “an opinion or judgment that disregards the facts.”

And the facts are that there are many bringers of light and many bringers of darkness in our world, and we must make it our goal to evaluate each “bringer” as an individual in his or her own right. And until we can do this, until we can see each person as an individual and not as a group, we will never find the peace and justice we all so desperately desire.

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Sanford, NC
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