(by +Victorio Milian)
If you see something, say something. These words have been on repeat in my head over the last few months.
With all that has been going on with the #metoo movement, I’ve been feeling challenged to consider my responsiveness. As an HR pro, our approach to any claim of sexual harassment should be swift and thorough. Investigation is not a nice idea, but a necessity for a balanced approach to both the accuser and accused. It’s life-altering for both sides, whether the accused is guilty or not. The professionalism and completeness of our investigation sets the right tone for justice and consequence.
But that’s not where my problem has been. As a city kid, there is a code on the streets. The fink or rat label is death to a boy. You don’t tell what you know if it’s going to get a buddy into trouble. You protect your friends, and even some acquaintances. It was just understood amongst boys. Fighting against this code left you in a social abyss. And while it’s easy to say, in your mid-40’s or 50’s, that it should not matter, it does when you’re 7 or 8.
In my early 20’s, I started to leave that code behind. I felt compelled to speak up for the underdog, the forgotten, the accosted. And while that’s all well and good, I still see myself influenced by one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten – “choose your battles.”
And therein is the rub. How has my behavior allowed me to forego speaking out against what I’ve seen in order to be “wise” about the battles I enter?
While I would like to believe that my selection of battles has been about wisdom and humility, I am not so sure that it hasn’t been about fear and avoidance at times. I am typically ready for a tete-a-tete these days, but that was not always the case. Did I miss a situation or circumstance that I should have paid attention to?
Listen, this is not about me cleansing my soul because I am not really sure that will ever fully happen here on earth, but rather, this is a challenge for us to consider our blind eye. Is there so much foolishness in my heart that I have missed a cry for help? Have I swept situations away because I wanted to believe differently? Have you done something similar?
Simply, it is time to challenge our unspoken credos. I must consider the influence of these codes in my life today. I can’t be held hostage to something, even subconsciously, that will harm others unfairly. I won’t stand for the jokes, the stereotyping, the “you know” mentality. For both men and women, black and white and everything in between, we have to choose better.
Why didn’t I call this post “What the World Needs Now is Love” rather than “Foolish Heart”? Because this one is introspective for each of us. Yes, we need to love well those around us. We do that through a healthy approach to fairness, justice, compassion and strength. But those realities last when based upon an honest and secure foundation. That’s for each of us to get to.