Stand Up Not Down

Stand Up for What is Right

Fox News recently had a special on what happened in Benghazi. Three of the men who were involved with protecting the Ambassador have written a book called Thirteen Hours in Benghazi.

It was an extremely heart-wrenching interview. One of the main points brought out was that if the men had been allowed to do their job earlier, they would have been able to prevent the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and the three other men.

Why didn't they go in earlier? They were told to stand down. That means in layman's terms, "don't do anything yet". Their boss told them not to go in and take action not just once, but three times. In the interview, the men said that if they were allowed to do things earlier, they would have been able to prevent the death of the Ambassador and other men.

This brings in an issue of a larger perspective than just this incident. What happens when you are told to do something that in your gut, you know is wrong. I'm not talking just that you don't feel like doing it or that it doesn't please you. I'm not talking about minor, non-essential things. But what about when your boss says to serve food that you know has been kept out at room temperature for five hours, and the legal limit is four hours? What about saying a medication is untainted, when it is, and in the end, deaths result and you know that if you had told the truth, that the medicine was tainted, the patient would still be alive? What do you do when you know your employer is cooking the books, and worse yet, he asks you to cook them for him?

As we watch politics, and see stories emerge, we find from whistle-blowers that they are treated ill for their exposure of corruption in whatever realm of activity they work. They are threatened with losing jobs and pensions. Personally, this writer was told that someone in a business had noticed something unethical, went to the bosses to expose it, thought he would be rewarded and commended for honesty, and in turn was fired, because the bosses were involved in it. I'm sure anyone reading this probably knows some personal story where someone did something that was ethical or exposed something unethical and was punished for it.

At the time of WW II, there was a man named Martin Niemöller who is well known for this quote or a variation of it:

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

That quote has resonated with many people at many times. Here is a modernized version.

First Rick Scott came for the teachers, but I said nothing as my kids were nearly out of school.
Then he came for the university professors, but my kids don't take anthropology so I said nothing.
Then he came for the prisons and handed those over to corporations. And still I said nothing because I hadn't broken any laws.
"Then he came for the writers and thinkers and the political activists, and I thought, serves those people right for being so mouthy.
Then he came for our county commissions, our school boards, he wanted it all. And since I had said nothing all through this, there was no one left to help me.
Now I am in corporate jail raising tilapia in a fish pond for 25 cents a day."

Along the same line, here is something else Martin Niemöller said.

I believe, we Confessing-Church-Christians have every reason to say: mea culpa, mea culpa! We can talk ourselves out of it with the excuse that it would have cost me my head if I had spoken out.

The reason Martin Niemöller resonates with so many people, and the reason that there are many, many variations of what he said or new adaptations that have been upgraded according to the times and circumstances, is that he abolishes the idea that it is okay to sit down and keep quiet when it is time to stand up and speak.

When something is obviously wrong, usually everyone paying attention knows it. If there is immorality, a cooking of the books, a bribe, a blackmail, anything along these lines, usually the grapevine in any particular organization or the chitter chatter knows about it. Where there is smoke there is fire. When it comes to legal issues, issues of morality and ethics in business, issues of following the Constitution, or the larger issues of life, it is necessary to stand up for what is right. Otherwise, the evil we are not willing to stand against gets bigger until it engulfs a person, situation, family, city, or nation.

There are times when we are told to do something by superiors, and within ourselves, we know that something is wrong. Following leadership is a good thing. But leadership should lead to right or righteous outcomes. Leadership that leads to bribery, blackmail, and murder is not true leadership. Leadership is leading in righteousness, it is not leading in unrighteousness.

The three men who have stood up to tell the truth about Benghazi have done it at risk to their lives and the lives of their families. There will be those who will not be happy that they have come out with the truth. However, because of the order to stand down, not just the four men were killed that night in Benghazi, but the series of events after that allowed for arming of what is now called ISIS and the growing of a movement that has murdered many, which has resulted also in not only adults, but children being beheaded

That one order to stand down was the beginning of something much larger. There are many lessons that can be drawn from their experience and lives, truly they are heroes who were ready to lay down their lives for others and for a larger cause. But one lesson that can be drawn, is that leadership is not always correct, is not always honest, does not always stand on the side of what is good. In those times, it is time to pray and ask for guidance and wisdom if it is time to not stand down, but to stand up for what is right.

© 2014 Cheryl_Jones

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