Bigotry always surprises me. I’m not sure why because I know from experience that there are a lot of people out there who are bigoted but regardless I still get surprised. It happened to me the other day and I found myself unsure of how to respond. The person who it came from was someone that I liked but in that split instant when they spoke with such anger and hatred, it changed how I viewed them.
It wasn’t just what they said although that had been bad enough. It was the sheer hatred and anger that laced their voice that was the most disturbing. It made me feel physical ill to hear it and it wasn’t directed at me. I found myself wondering if this person said such things to other people and how it made them feel. Worse, I didn’t know what to say to them.
How do you respond to such things? Does it make a difference that it was in a public place? Would it have been easier to say something in private? I’m pretty good about speaking up anymore but this went far past what I was used to. I literally sat stunned and then after felt guilty that I failed to say anything. I’m not sure if I had said anything that it would have changed what this person felt and yet to say nothing grates at me.
When does it do you or anyone else good to speak out and when does it not help? Should we always speak out? Should we judge each case as it happens? How do we tell? Lots of questions come to mind and not much in the way of answers.
I feel like I am searching for a guideline but in reality there is none to be had. What may work for me, might be too little for someone else or too much or another. I do wish I had spoken up and can only hope that the next incident finds me better able to step forward and say…Enough!