“Did you see my letter in the paper?” I asked my sister and her husband as we sat down in the restaurant.
“Yes,” they said, laughing. “Our friends did, too. They all got a big kick out of it. Sure, they’ve all encountered the problem you wrote about, but why waste your time complaining to the paper about it? Don’t you have anything better to do?”
My sister’s reaction wasn’t terribly surprising. She and I have always had a rather different outlook on life. Besides, I’ll always be her “little brother;” on the rare occasions when we try to have serious discussions, it seems like the possibility that I might have a valid opinion never crosses her mind. Still, the question remains. Why do I bother?
My friends joke that I have a “bad customer service aura.” If there’s any way a business can mistreat a customer, they’ll do it to me. Or, at least, so it seems, given the long collection of stories I’ve amassed and shared with them over the years. I don’t really have that much more trouble than others; the difference is that I care more than others.
To most people, the little injustices that crop up in everyday life are just something to be coped with as quickly as possible. Why make a fuss about things that happen to everybody? Why worry about the little things when there are big things to worry about? “Your letter was beautifully written, as always,” my sister said. “But why don’t you write about something meaningful like world peace?” (Yes, she really said that.)
I see things a little differently. I don’t expect ever to be rich and/or famous. I don’t expect ever to be a “powerful” person. I doubt anything I could write would have much of an impact on world peace. But where I can make a difference is in the little things. Institutions mistreat people because they can. They can because people let them get away with it. When enough people refuse to put up with mistreatment, the mistreatment stops. And even if it doesn’t, it’s worth it to fight back if it saves just a single person from being mistreated as I was.
Speaking out about injustice, no matter how small, is a moral obligation. It is, indeed, something better to do, and I’ll keep doing it, God willing, for as long as there’s injustice to speak out about. And now, thanks to my sister’s unintended inspiration, I’ve got a blog to do it in.
(Incidentally, if you’re curious, you can see what prompted me to write to the paper here.)