My friend Kathryn wrote to me to say, “I just read a great quote which, of course!, I had to share with you:

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself. ~Harvey S. Firestone

I agree. That is a great quote for anyone, man or woman. I wish more people lived by it. But it is sometimes really difficult to define oneself when under the dominion of family, employer or sometimes just because of perceived “place” in society or family.

Start with the first part of the quote, being “bullied into silence”. This has been a problem forever I suppose. However, here in the USA people in the 21st century are freer to speak than at any time in history. Unless of course you wish to speak up about a subject that is not politically correct. Being politically correct is the opposite of being free to speak. Yet the fact is that if there were no stigma against saying certain things to or about special groups of ethnic or religious preference, there could be rampant prejudice.

Why?? What is it about Man that makes us almost instinctively prefer one group to another. If you don’t believe that is true, try asking a very politically correct person who thinks he is without prejudice what he thinks of a person who is an active member of the Ku Klux Klan for instance or a fundamentalist Muslim who wants to have all infidels killed. Everyone has their own form of discernment. Call it what you will, the fact is we don’t like everyone.

The second part of the above quote is most important. DO NOT ALLOW yourself to be made a victim by those who do not like you. No matter who you are or how important you are there will be some people somewhere who would like to silence you, or make you go away. Stand up to those people in order to show them that you are equal in humanity and valor. Do not remain silent when you see that others are being abused and victimized.

What you choose to defend will define who you are as much as your profession or your talents. Use your time wisely. Do not engage in efforts not worth your time. Stick to those things that stifle any feelings of guilt or remorse. Attend to your own affairs when possible, but if necessary help those who cannot help themselves. Not just as a futile effort at “do gooder” activity, but because you believe in it. If you do NOT believe in something then leave it alone. Let others do the work of saving those you are not attracted to on some gut level. Just be sure that you are not part of the problem.

Let your actions define you in your own eyes and also those of others. You choose.

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