"Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won." ~ Louisa May Alcott
There comes a time in each of our lives when we must decide who we are and what we stand for.
Truth is, we are called to take that stand each and every time there's a choice to be made between doing what's right in the moment, despite our fear and insecurities or the possibility of public scorn and following the crowd into the lukewarm waters of moral mediocrity and self-defeatism.
Each of these decisions becomes the brick and mortar of the rest of our lives that either creates a foundation strong enough to build a life that is amazing, beautiful, passionate and powerful or does not.
So what do you stand for?
Stand for Something Worth Standing for
Stand for Compassion
"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." ~ Mother Teresa
We are limited to the number of people we touch and inspire and lift and bless in this life by the degree to which we keep our hands in our own pockets and fail to reach out to those in need.
A no-brainer, right?
But then how many times have you had the opportunity to reach out to someone in need and you didn't? In my own life, I can't count them. I wish I could, but the number would be too high. Still, I'm not suggesting we sell all our possessions and spend all our lives serving the poor.
But there are causes in need of trumpeting. There are people, perhaps in your own family or neighborhood, who need a shoulder, a smile, a word of encouragement.
There are people who are just one visit, one phone call, one note, email or text away from finally feeling loved, accepted, appreciated, like they truly matter.
When was the last time you made that visit, placed that call or wrote that note of appreciation?
"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
Don't get me wrong, I know we have good hearts and good intentions, but when push comes to shove, do we sit and wait for the next person to do what's needed to help, to bless, and serve or do we step up to the plate and do our part?
We can be such resources for good in the world, if we're willing.
Perhaps the most important service we can render will be changes instigated in our own backyards and neighborhoods "“ with a friend going through a divorce, an elderly neighbor struggling to cope with the loss of her husband, a next door neighbor who can no longer push the lawn mower or take out the trash, a son or daughter struggling with their identity.
It will be by reaching out to individuals, one person at a time, loving them and lifting them and serving them, that we can most profoundly change lives and add meaning and purpose and happiness to our lives.
So smile at those who need a smile. Hug those who need a hug. Befriend those who need a friend. Talk to those who need to talk. Be the shoulder, the arm, the muscle, the heart that others will need from time to time as we all stumble through life together.
You'll soon find that as you give, oh so much more will be received.
Stand for Truth
"Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare the truth thou hast, that all may share; Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare." ~ Voltaire
Are your values the shadows cast by other people's standards? Does your character change with the seasons, or the crowd, or your mood? Are your standards more like a costume you wear when the occasion calls for it, then discarded when something better comes along? In other words, is your moral core made of such pliable stuff, that it's easily squeezed into any shape or form?
Well, it's time to take a stand! We can't respect ourselves when we have no core worthy of our respect. If our core is no more than drift wood floating on the sea of societal norms and pop culture, or worse, of expediency, then truly there is nothing we can stand on. Only if you're anchored to something fixed and solid can you build something tall and magnificent. So anchor yourself to universal principles and fundamental truths. There's nothing more solid than that.
Standing for something means centering yourself on timeless principles. It means committing to live by those principles. It means leaving the crowd whenever they stray from those standards. That bedrock of core principles will return a sense of self-respect to the image in the mirror over time as they are applied, internalized and expressed as a natural extension of who you have become.
Stand for Self-Respect and Dignity
Are you so meek you've largely disappeared? Do you bend and bend some more and keep on bending? Are you so flexible that you've lost your spine and the ability to stand up altogether? Do you mold yourself into other people's reality, losing the shape and form of who you most fundamentally are?
"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself." ~ Robert Frost
Never become the doormat on which others wipe their feet. Never be the sole giver to a bottomless pit. Never secret your mind for fear of upsetting others by sharing a piece of it. Never deny yourself so as to keep the peace. Never be nothing to let someone else think they're something. Never evaporate into thin air or turn to liquid or shrink into the cracks in the floorboards of life just because someone else is inclined to walk on you.
It's time to stand and be counted! Stand tall with your moral footing firmly planted on moral principle and treat yourself with dignity and respect.
And expect it from others. But don't fall to the noisy temptation of demanding respect by virtue of the volume of your voice, but by the quiet dignity of your integrity to what's right and a healthy respect for who you are and are working to become.
Stand Even When No One Else Will Stand With You
Standing up to be counted is a daunting thing, especially if most of your life has been lived in the fetal position. But life cannot be lived well if we live it slouched, bent in the perpetual position of a bow or an apology or a question mark.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
So refuse to be the question mark at the end of someone else's sentence. Stop being the soggy flakes at the milky bottom of life's cereal bowl. Refuse to be the whisper behind closed doors or the silence that sinks deep into the heart like a knife.
Instead, be a man or be a woman, standing tall, strong, a person of moral courage, dedicated to truth and principle, your hands outstretched, ready to lift the weary, a voice that is clear and distinct and confident. Ready, in short, to stand and be counted, to make a difference, to help change the world.
That, after all, is what we were meant to be. And together, that's what we can accomplish.
"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything." ~ Alexander Hamilton
Decide what you stand for and stand for it! Stand for people, for relationships, for those in need, for your fellow brothers and sisters in this 7 billion member family called humanity. Stand on principle and for truth whether others follow or run or condemn.
Develop an inner core that prevents indifference and apathy, that keeps you walking on the same side of the street as the man with the empty eyes and empty pockets and empty stomach, that holds you firmly to high standards and the self-reverence of self- respect.
And then, and perhaps only then, will we develop the power to alter the course and trajectory of our world because we will have exercised the power to stand tall in the face of those who want us to kneel and cower and apologize and slide into the background of life.
But we won't do it. Instead, we will stand for something greater than our own self-interest. We will stand for truth and dignity and humanity. And, if we must, even if abandoned by others for a time, we will still stand until the whole world is standing with us.
What do you stand for? Please share in the comments below.