How courageous are you really?
Picture credit: Ralf Weiser Petri Kirche Kirchohsen
So you think you are courageous and speak your mind? When peer pressure sneaks up on us courage is hard to come by. This issue lurks in the most unsuspecting places and may lull you into believing you are all but immune to this issue.
Courageousness has fascinated me from an early age on. Bullied in middle and high school as well as apprenticeship I had to conquer my fears – and I failed just as often then. A little further along came the question what I would have done living in Germany at the times of the Holocaust: Would I have spoken up in protest unlike my grandparents? Those questions have often nagged me. I have made peace with myself over these tough and yet delicate topics since then and made my own resolutions.
What I am talking about here are the more mundane issues at work (of course you cannot compare those to the aforementioned huge issues) and in our social life’s situations. Take for instance meetings when your boss asks for your opinion and to speak up perhaps even during brain storming sessions. Depending on your work place, more often than not, the meeting goes on quietly, you say nothing and then later at the water cooler you may let it rip about how you really think and feel. Too little, too late – you had your chance making a constructive difference.
Sitting at church one day just as the next song was to be sung, everybody knew that this was to be done standing up. Yet, no one got up. It took the music director to finally motion the congregation to get up. How is that for sneaky peer pressure? Fascinating to see how fast everyone gets up once the first person moves. This is peer pressure at work at the small scale level. We succumb to the pressure of what we think is expected of us and thus whatever is “safe” for us to do.
What is so dangerous about these seemingly unimportant and irrelevant examples is how little peer pressure (or fear of your boss, social group, etc) it takes for us all to remain inactive and to become innocent bystanders. We are the passive participant of an event and our minds are at ease as we did not make an active decision to affect a change in this interaction.
Point to ponder for us once and a while is what we will think about when something happens to us and no one does anything on our behalf – the others are just bystanders doing what is safe for – them. Will you make the difference next time? I know I will try my heart out making a difference to the best of my ability.