I was talking to my friend Greg a few months ago and he told me a poignant and powerful story about speaking his truth. He was in a grocery store and saw a woman yelling at her children in a cruel way.
He walked over to the woman and said, "Excuse me, would you please treat those children with kindness and love?" She looked at him and said, "Mind your own business, these are my kids." Greg replied by saying, "If you were doing this in your living room, it would be just your business, but you're doing it here in front of me. I'm standing over here with my heart aching for these children as I hear you speak to them like that, so I decided to come over and say something to you about it."
The woman then told him to stick it up his you-know-what, grabbed her kids and rushed out to the parking lot to drive away. Greg then said to me, "Mike, I don't know if I did the right thing or the wrong thing. My legs were shaking as I talked to her. I was so scared, upset and emotional."
"But," Greg said, "I'll tell you what—when I walked away I noticed something interesting: I wasn't blaming anyone. Normally, I wouldn't have said anything and I would have blamed myself for not speaking up, the woman for treating her kids like that, or our culture for creating the environment where things like that happen and no one does anything about it. However, since I spoke up I was at peace and not wasting any time or energy blaming anyone. I have no idea if what I said made an impact on that woman, but I don't have to live with her, I have to live with myself."
I sat there stunned when I heard Greg tell me this story. I said to him, "Wow, that was bold. I'm not sure I would've had the courage to say that to her, but I'm glad you did."What if you had the courage to speak up?