Blessed are the troublemakers

Blessed are the troublemakers

I’ve never been a troublemaker in the most literal sense. I pay my taxes, renew my driver’s license when it expires and on most days drive the speed limit. Us small folk living in flyover country don’t get the luxury of ignoring a jury summons or parking ticket, and we especially wouldn’t think of not complying with a subpoena if so received. I’m sure swift repercussions would follow.

Where is the invisible line, and who decides where it’s drawn, that turns us into troublemakers? Is it when the expected actions of an individual vary from the status quo? The view of the majority in any given setting? Is it a herd mentality that laser-focuses us on someone stepping outside of group-think in a community?

I’ve always had it inside me to think or act differently, but when you are younger, you don’t want to be different. I remember an incident I often think back on. There was a group of us that were complaining about unfairness from an adult in leadership. We talked as a group and formed a plan of action to talk to them.

We marched in, fists clenched in solidarity, ready to take on the problem. I will never forget our resolve as we walked down that unlit hallway. When we reached the area where we were to have the meeting, I began by saying my piece — my issues that I had. Then I turned around, looking at the next person who was going to have their say.

I realized, too late, that everyone had lost their nerve and was looking at the ground. They had all moved 10 steps away from me. I had been the only one to speak my mind, and in doing so, it looked like I was the only one that had an issue. They’d abandoned me and fell in line with the norm, not speaking out about the wrongs we had discussed and felt strongly about conveying.

It was a moment that changed me. It taught me while it’s good to have a group to talk over problems and commiserate with, you can only count on yourself to solve a problem. Had we decided one person was going to talk and share the problems for the good of all, that would’ve been one thing.

Even when faced with doing the right thing, speaking up for yourself and what you felt was wrong, remaining silent in numbers was the easier thing to do for them. I had been resolute, and just that quick it all had changed as they filed in behind me.

Was I a troublemaker because I had spoken out? When I crossed into the threshold of that room, had I crossed an invisible line that made me a troublemaker for speaking truth?

Sometimes speaking the hard things, going against what everyone might want to keep silent, that’s the hardest thing in the world. It’s easy to stay silent and comfortable, the vacuum a soft pillow that muffles your ears from the truth. There’s a difference between spreading a lie and sharing the truth.

Lies hurt people when spread. Telling the truth, even though it may expose something, is balm for the situation. The receiver of the words may not want to hear what you’re saying, especially if it affects them, but that doesn’t change the truth of a thing. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t make it not true.

I may walk a tight line when it comes to doing the little things right, but if telling hard truths means I’m a troublemaker, then I’m all in. Denying what’s right, excusing things away and hiding behind the crowd doesn’t cut it for me. I’d rather type out an entire glossary of things that need said, sharing them week by week, than pretending everything is fine while the house burns down.

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