5 min

SOCIAL Disobedience: It’s like civil disobedience with your friends and neighbor‪s‬ Parenting with a Story Podcast

    • Parenting

The past three weeks have been an almost non-stop parade of protests, all centered around the most recent tragic deaths that didn’t have to happen.







“Yes, that’s terrible. But what can I do?” you might ask. After all, you already changed your Facebook profile for BlackOut Day. And you even attended a Black Lives Matter march. So, you’re good right?







No, not really.







Those things only signal that you’re on the side of making

things better. But only on the side. As

in, the sideline. If you actually want to make a difference, you need to get

off the bench and into the game and that’s a lot harder than changing your

profile picture. And it probably means getting knocked around a little. I don’t

mean literally. This isn’t a call to violence. And I’m not suggesting you

intervene in an active arrest or break the law in an act of civil disobedience

(although both of those have their place, too).







Here I’m talking

about the kind of thing you can do on a daily basis by just calling out bad

behavior when you see it — in your family, friends, and neighbors. And that

takes courage. It might mean temporarily straining relationships with people

you care about. In the worst situations, you might even lose a friend over it.

But in most cases, you’ll end up earning new respect, from others, and for

yourself.







Instead of “civil” disobedience, let’s call

it “social” disobedience. Because in this case, you’re rubbing

up against generally accepted rules of social behavior, like “If you don’t

have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” or going along with

what everyone else is doing even if you don’t agree with it. Or, more

generally, the aversion many of us have to disagree with or offer even the

gentlest of criticism to people we know for fear of damaging the relationship.







We need to get over

that. True friends will appreciate you being honest and direct with them

anyway.







So, here’s an

example of what that looks like in the context of racial bigotry. But social

disobedience can be used for any worthwhile social change that you support and

from any side of the political spectrum. If it’s important to you, let the

people closest to you know — especially when they themselves are the problem.







Basketball with Torlick







When Ed was a five-

or six-year-old boy growing up in Colorado, he noticed that his was the only

house in the neighborhood painted red. All the other houses were either brown

or green. When he asked his dad why, his father said very matter of factly, “Because

when we moved in, the Homeowners Association told us we could only paint it

brown or green. So, naturally, I painted it red.”







Apparently, Mr.

Tanguay wasn’t much of a rule follower, at least not with rules he considers

unworthy. So you shouldn’t be too surprised at how he responded on another

occasion when he received a more unsettling directive from the HOA. 







When Ed’s older

brother Mark was fourteen, he visited their aunt and uncle, who were on

assignment in the Peace Corps in the Marshall Islands, very close to the

equator in the western Pacific Ocean. Just prior to returning home, he called

his parents to ask if he could bring home a guest for a while. He’d befriended

a local boy named Torlick who’d never been to the United States.

The past three weeks have been an almost non-stop parade of protests, all centered around the most recent tragic deaths that didn’t have to happen.







“Yes, that’s terrible. But what can I do?” you might ask. After all, you already changed your Facebook profile for BlackOut Day. And you even attended a Black Lives Matter march. So, you’re good right?







No, not really.







Those things only signal that you’re on the side of making

things better. But only on the side. As

in, the sideline. If you actually want to make a difference, you need to get

off the bench and into the game and that’s a lot harder than changing your

profile picture. And it probably means getting knocked around a little. I don’t

mean literally. This isn’t a call to violence. And I’m not suggesting you

intervene in an active arrest or break the law in an act of civil disobedience

(although both of those have their place, too).







Here I’m talking

about the kind of thing you can do on a daily basis by just calling out bad

behavior when you see it — in your family, friends, and neighbors. And that

takes courage. It might mean temporarily straining relationships with people

you care about. In the worst situations, you might even lose a friend over it.

But in most cases, you’ll end up earning new respect, from others, and for

yourself.







Instead of “civil” disobedience, let’s call

it “social” disobedience. Because in this case, you’re rubbing

up against generally accepted rules of social behavior, like “If you don’t

have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” or going along with

what everyone else is doing even if you don’t agree with it. Or, more

generally, the aversion many of us have to disagree with or offer even the

gentlest of criticism to people we know for fear of damaging the relationship.







We need to get over

that. True friends will appreciate you being honest and direct with them

anyway.







So, here’s an

example of what that looks like in the context of racial bigotry. But social

disobedience can be used for any worthwhile social change that you support and

from any side of the political spectrum. If it’s important to you, let the

people closest to you know — especially when they themselves are the problem.







Basketball with Torlick







When Ed was a five-

or six-year-old boy growing up in Colorado, he noticed that his was the only

house in the neighborhood painted red. All the other houses were either brown

or green. When he asked his dad why, his father said very matter of factly, “Because

when we moved in, the Homeowners Association told us we could only paint it

brown or green. So, naturally, I painted it red.”







Apparently, Mr.

Tanguay wasn’t much of a rule follower, at least not with rules he considers

unworthy. So you shouldn’t be too surprised at how he responded on another

occasion when he received a more unsettling directive from the HOA. 







When Ed’s older

brother Mark was fourteen, he visited their aunt and uncle, who were on

assignment in the Peace Corps in the Marshall Islands, very close to the

equator in the western Pacific Ocean. Just prior to returning home, he called

his parents to ask if he could bring home a guest for a while. He’d befriended

a local boy named Torlick who’d never been to the United States.

5 min

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