What is right is not always popular. Simple as that. People are often swayed by societal trends without thinking about the consequences. It is so easy to steer in other directions, as we tend to label what others would do as more important and whether it is different from what we would do. Oftener than not, we do things because It’s what others want us to do, or would do themselves. A person cannot “live with himself/herself” unless they are willing to stay true to their own morality.
Back when I was in elementary school there was one kid, let’s call him Steve, that all the “popular” kids would pick at. He would get angry and cry very easily, and they would all laugh when Steve began to start yelling at them to stop. I’m pretty good friends with most popular kids. Even so, I would make it a point to go up and have conversations with Steve and get to know him. I wanted him to know that he could find a friend in me when he had no one else to turn to. What I regret however, is that I would never tell any of the other kids to back off when they were being mean to him because I was afraid that the popular kids would think I was “weird” or “soft” and stop liking me. There’s still guilt and regret in the back of my mind because I never stood up for him, and wish that I had done the right thing.
Popularity often feeds individual selfishness, greed, and ego. There must be some kind of motivation or impetus to want to do the right thing vs the wrong thing. “Allowing others to set your standards for you is living the life of a sheep. Refuse to follow the crowd. Refuse to lower your standards in order to fit in with those who have no standards. This is the way of the true warrior; it is the way of the true human being.” Bohdi Sanders – author of Modern Bushido: Living a Life of Excellence. We should focus on what is right, not simply on what others consider popular. Don’t allow society, or anyone else, determine your standards. Set your own standards and live by your own principles.
Not being able to stand for the right thing made me feel like a complete wimp, like so many must have felt when Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin conducted witch hunts in the 1950s. He went after those of who had beliefs that went against his own, and put them on blacklists that drastically changed their lives for the worse because he personally didn’t agree with it. As a result, most Americans were afraid to speak up, and afraid that if they spoke against it, they would end up on a list too. And a list was to be feared. I’m ashamed to say that I might be one of those people, because standing up for what is right and speaking your mind can be scary at times. People might think you’re different, and that’s one thing that we all have trouble with. We all want to fit in and be accepted, but then come the early hours of the morning when you wake up tossing and turning, thinking about what you really should have said; and why didn’t you? It’s because the one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is your conscious, my conscious, our collective consciences… and if we don’t occasionally step out of our comfort zones and speak what we believe, then we will wake up night after night in those early hours and feel those annoying pangs of guilt.