Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Never, Never Give Up

Three days before Hurricane Katrina, I strolled into Steinmart to see if they had something I wanted. I looked through the clothing but found nothing. None of the jewelry tempted me. Wandering into the home accessories department, I found a sign, which said "Never, never give up."

Not realizing that we were facing a Category Five in your Hurricane Hit Parade, I bought the sign and drove home.

The sign interested me because I admire the tenacity of Mr. C. who does not give up. He may pivot to re-assess his focus, he may study the situation looking for a solution but he does not give up. His parents started over from scratch twice in their marriage. The 1947 storm (before hurricanes had names) wiped out their boat repair business. The other start over is family lore and not to be told here. His people just keep going forward.

I feel like quitting this afternoon. One more time, I explained to the powers why the current head of an important governing body group should be given a plaque and a party so he can go home. While the current head is capable in many areas, he is not good with people.

Months ago, when I realized that his behavior was harming those around him, I prayed about the situation and went to see him. I shared my observations about his behavior and the consequences to those around him. He was unmoved and explained that he knew what he was doing. I let time pass until I heard again of an action which hurt someone to the quick. I went to see him again. He was unmoved.

Praying more about the situation and wanting, with all my heart, for this to be worked out, I took an elder with me to speak with the man. The elder agreed with my assessment having witnessed unkind behavior. Time passed. We went to see him again.

Four times, I spoke as gently and clearly as I know how to this man about his bad treatment of others. He was not moved.

I spoke to him in our committee meeting about situations I was spending more and more time trying to fix so that those harmed could regain their dignity and go forward. Nothing changed. At the next meeting, I explained the problem to the committee with the man present.
Nothing happened.

The larger governing body attempted to intervene as I am not the only person troubled by this situation. Conference calls, emails and meetings took place so that everyone who wished might say how they felt about the man's behavior. I learned that worse things went on that I hadn't known about. I felt heart-broken. Where a few acts of kindness from the man would have turned him into a hero, he stomped on people.

Today, the larger group met with the smaller group to discuss the situation (and two other issues which need to be addressed but cannot be resolved until the man steps down). No one discussed the big elephant. The chair suggested that he would not proceed unless people spoke up. People did not speak up. People who needed to be heard were absent from the meeting.

I spoke up.

Nothing happened.

I want to give up. I tell myself that I have plenty of things to do and that I have spent hours upon hours since the storm trying to affect change, reconciliation and progress. Nothing I do seems to impact the situation for the better. Nothing.

Mr. C. says for me to let it go. I say I don't like to see meanness without speaking up to change it.

What would you do?

Very discouraged,

St. Casserole


sherry said...

Let it go, but don't give up. This sounds like one of those things that is on God's time.

BTW, that quote came from Winston Churchill. Look to him for inspiration.

the reverend mommy said...

I think you are wonderful for trying.

You seem to have a passion for injustice -- the truly loving thing is to call this person into accountability for his behavior. I hope you can persevere. It's hard and discouraging, but you have such heart and I just think a good thing.

I'll be praying for you and this situation.

the reverend mommy said...

uh, correction. You have a passion for righting injustice. Not for DOING injustice. Ooops.

Quotidian Grace said...

My husband and I faced a similar situation and my husband and ultimately decided we had to remove ourselves from it when it became obvious we had no influence for good.

I don't know if you think you can do that in this situation or not. But sometimes you just have to walk away.

Listing Straight said...

I don't know.
I wish I knew.

But I do know that I think you are wise and brave and wonderful.

I'm sorry this hurting was not prevented or dealt with.

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

~whispers~ Texas Town Car of Justice...I'm just saying....

1-4 Grace said...

I am quite frustrated for you because nobody else was willing to speak up and say soemthing. I think of countless examples in history where nobody said a thing and situations grew worse. I am felt great frustration over leaders in our church who choose to say nothing, yet they know a situation is bad, it is wrong and something should be said.
I admire your courage and leadership as you spoke up. Letting go of this one may be best for you now. Don't give up, but don't give in to a silent majority either. It takes great courage to say soemthing when nobody else does.
There may come another time when you will need to speak up.
But I am frustrated over people that say nothing while others go hurting from somebody's actions.
Just sucks, ya know?

Presbyterian Gal said...

I agree that you are very brave to have confronted this man in what I am sure was a prayerful and loving way.

If you are not in a position to walk away from this, all I can offer in advice is something I learned in improv workshops that has helped me to think outside the box in similar situations: If you agree with total commitment with what is going on around you, it will change for the better. I don't mean be phony or pretend to support his hurtful behavior. But find something, anything in him that is positive to, very loudly and with great fanfare, point out to everyone else. Even if it's just tying his shoes in a spiffy fashion. Because apparently it just makes him feel far too good to make others feel bad to give it up.

Erin said...

I never presume to understand why some speak up and others stay silent, and why sometimes we're heard and often we're not.

You and your actions are brave, and bold, and wise and loving. That never goes un-noticed by those who depend on you, who admire you, and who love you.

No matter what happens, I know that there are thankful hearts who appreciate all of your efforts.

Lorna said...

Don't give up ! But do let go!
This is not ONLY your fight and dwelling too much on the people who SHOULD have spoken up, and the man himself who SHOULD know better will only harm you - and ultimately those around you if it's allowed to eat away at you.

GOD HATES injustice and we should too - and I think you are brave, lovely and so caring that you have spoken up when you can, and made opportunities to do it do -especially one on one.

This man will thank you eventually but my guess is that he's in a bad spot and needs all the prayer we can muster. It's not easy for a leopard to change his spots .. but the miracle that is Jesus does make to happen, if we allow it that is.

Do we want to be healed? It's a loaded question isn't it?

Blessed are the peacemakers and those who stand up for the weak and defenceless. Blessed are you dear friend

Hugs and sloppy kisses from 7 very active puppies who minister the love of God without even knowing it!

Kathryn said...

Horrible situation...so sorry. You've done so much to make things better and feeling yourself out on a limb like that, with no apparent support is just miserable. Try to put it aside if you can, but, as everyone else has said, don't give up.
Admiring and sympathetic hugs ((StC))

cheesehead said...

Let Jesus tote this one. You've done all that a body can. By the way, that is not giving up. It is letting God.

I love you.

Mrs. M said...

No advice, but so very proud of you. There's a man in my parish who has been hurtful and difficult, and no one seems to be addressing the issue. I cannot tell you how pleased I am that you did something.

Can you tell what's keeping others from taking action?