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Ruta Mave: Standing up for what is right

Monday 19 June 2023 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion


Ruta Mave: Standing up for what is right
*** BESTPIX *** TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: Allyson Felix of Team USA reacts after winning the bronze medal in the Women's 400m Final on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 06, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The absence of courage in our society these days is not cowardice, it is complacency, conformity and contradiction, writes Ruta Mave.

It is not a lack of ability to stand up for what is right and against what is wrong, harmful or abusive, it is the ability to not care enough to bother and expect someone else to take up the slack and protect your back.

A coward may hide behind your back due to a perceived amount of fear. The complacent will say they have your back and then stand behind you not in solidarity to your leadership. Not even to stand up and shoot the enemy approaching from behind.

No, those who conform without complaint to the lukewarm soup that society serves them have your back as a shield. They do this to avoid any discomfort, criticism, or expectation to show grit and conviction in their thoughts, will, and might. They would rather accept what is given than stand up for what they believe in.

Swimming against the tide in opposite to the school of fish requires strength, persistence and a determination to cut through the crud and carve your own path.  Conforming to the norm of what everyone else is doing is not swimming, it is being swept up in the current of communal compliance. True there is safety in numbers, that said you are also more likely to be caught in a net and dumped on the side as collateral damage when all they wanted was the big fish.

Courage comes in many forms, it shines like a beacon over the young boy who went to the aid of his little sister to wrestle a pit-bull dog away from her and take the attack upon himself. He had half his face ripped away and too many stitches to count. He survived and was rewarded by his hero Captain America – Chris Evans giving him his original shield from the movies.

It will take a lot more courage for him to grow up in a society that will mock him due to his scars and call him out for not conforming to the ‘pretty’ scale of looks.

It takes a phenomenal amount of courage for a young girl to tell someone – until she is heard and the abuse is stopped by taking her away from it. She risks losing all she knows and family support by exposing abusive action. She then must have the courage of her convictions to stand in the court and not only re-live the actions that haunt her on a daily basis but then be subjected to cross examination where she is made out to be the guilty one, the trouble maker and the initiator. She will have many people tell her she is brave and ‘good on you girl’ but they will hide behind her, let the knives bury themselves deep into her psyche and if she crumples and falls beneath the weight of it, tell themselves this is why we hide, this is what happens if you speak up and speak out.

Standing up for what is right means risking being cut down, speaking out means risking being cut off. They say no man is an island, but for the brave who will risk telling the truth whenever it is being hidden, risk being isolated as an island in the big blue ocean of lies.

Courage is when Olympic sprint champion Allyson Felix dropped her main financial sponsor Nike after they cut the terms of her endorsement by 70 per cent because she was pregnant. They told her “Know your place and just run”. She had been getting up at 4.30am to train in the dark to hide she was pregnant. She had a c-section seven months into the pregnancy due to complications and baby lived in ICU for four weeks. Two years later Allyson qualified for her fifth Olympics, developed her own brand of running shoes and with her daughter watching she won her 13th gold medal and passed Usain Bolt’s record for the most world track and field medals by an American in history. Her courage cut a path brighter than the cost.

Courage is not stating something for show at a public audience, it is acting on the very words and premise you base your worth.

Our environmental representation is at the plastic pollution seminar spouting how the rest of the world should make changes, knowing we still do nothing towards protecting ourselves. Former prime minister Henry Puna announced banning all plastic bags and he gave a date. Did the shops stockpile years of plastic bags when they can’t stockpile rice or eggs on a regular basis?

The constant promotion of our community being highly affected by outsider’s pollution while we do very little to reduce our own love of plastic is cowardice at its finest.