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Upstander

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“Only 15-30% of people consider themselves an upstander” (Bullying and Cyberbullying).  An upstander is a person who sees an injustice, or something morally wrong, and they act positively to correct the issue. Not only can you be an upstander in bullying situations, but in any scenario in which something is wrong and can be corrected through your positive impact. You can be an upstander for someone bullied, abused, or even an addict.  Anyone can be an upstander, no matter their past, yet few people chose to be one. Being an upstander is not a complex idea nor is it hard to achieve an upstander status. However it takes something some people simply do not have, bravery. You can become an upstander all you need is to be brave and empathetic for a few fleeting moments. An upstander can be anyone, they are a vital part of society, and they are impressive  people with an amazing effect on others.


Everyone can be an upstander; all you need to know is how. There are many aspects to being an upstander. The easy part is to believe in yourself and know that you are doing is right. All it takes is a split decision to be brave and stick up for what you believe, and others that can't believe in themselves.  One of the harder things to master is tough love. It is easy to become codependent or an enabler. “ An enabler is a person who enables or helps another person continue with self-destructive behavior by making excuses or making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior” (Intervention). The majority of people do have good intentions while enabling, but the effects are anything except good. The only person it helps is the enabler by allowing that person to continue their downfall by building up their addiction and normalizing it. It keeps the enabler from realizing the truth that their friend, family member, or loved one has a serious problem, that needs real help. Not excuses. A good way to avoid enabling is to keep reminding yourself that they need professional help to get their problem corrected, not the ability to make it worse. Be firm in your decisions, and don't back down. Set kind, but strict boundaries. Then they know that you care, but will not help to continue this behaviour. Let them face their consequences, and become better for it. Codependency is very similar to enabling, but slightly differs the relationship with the person committing the negative action. “When you are codependent, you feel the same emotions that everyone else does, but you take them to the extreme. You become so interested in meeting the needs of someone else that you don't take care of yourself” (Drugs, Alcohol, and Codependency). If you are codependent the best thing to do is to slowly back away. You can't have a healthy relationship with anyone else (let alone someone committing self-destructive behavior). The best way to avoid becoming codependent is to do the same thing you do with enabling. Set a kind, but firm set of boundaries. Realize that you can not be the only person to fix the problem. There are positive ways to be an upstander, and help the person, without losing yourself along the way. It is difficult, but you may need to allow the person to fall in order for them to recognize and get help for their problem. Be there for them, not their behavior, along the way. Another difficult aspect of being an upstander can be handling a bully. First we should define exactly a bully is; “A person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker” (Bullying and Cyberbullying).  This can be a peer beating up others at lunch, a boss taking advantage/ abusing their power, or even someone considered a friend to the victim. The best thing to do in a bullying situation is to approach it with a level head. You should support the victim(s), and tell the bully to stop. Stop the bullies ammunition, take away the support of the harassment. If this still continues then you need to seek a trusted adults help or someone who can stop the harassment. The best way to help the victim is to end the bullying cycle, and to be a friend. All of these things make you an upstander.You do not need to face the bully head on. You can inform someone who will handle the situation, or just be kind and supportive of the victim.


Our world would be in great distress if it weren't for upstanders. You are surrounded by people you may not even realize are upstanders. A great example of this is the iconic segregational leader, Rosa Parks. With her quote “Whatever my individual desires were to be free, I was not alone. There were many others who felt the same” (Statement On World Humanitarian Day). Her quote demonstrates how an upstander is not someone who just stands up for themselves. They put others first and fight for those who can't or won't fight for themselves. You are acting in the “right” way, doing the moral thing. You are a representative of others. Another example of an upstander is my friend Brooke. She is an example for many other students. She recently was in a difficult situation where one friend was targeting and harassing another friend for a choice they made. When the bully attempted to gain Brooke`s support she commented: “You need to stop doing this. She doesn't deserve this, and did nothing to you. What your doing is wrong and you need to be nice.” Brooke was being an upstander in a situation where her friend did not even know that she was defending her. She did the right thing, and helped stop a situation from spinning even farther out of control. It was important, because when you take away bully's support then they have nothing left. You don't need to be mean, or get physical. All you need is to voice your statement, and shut them down. This is an easy act that when performed often makes school a better place for many people; including previous victims. My mother, Katie, once told me a story about when she had to be an upstander for her father. He was an out of control alcoholic who kept getting increasingly worse. Eventually he was hospitalized, but did not want to go to rehab. The hospital needed two signatures in order to get him forced care. Her and her sister wanted to do it, because of this they were hated by his family. Many made  crude and hurtful remarks yet they. She told me the story, saying: “ He was going to die if he continued his addiction. We needed two signatures to put him in rehab, so me and Mandy did it. Everyone told us that we were just being spiteful, and doing it to hurt him.”


It's amazing how a few moments can change someone's life. Consider how easy it is to be an upstander as you read the results considered by many to be miracles. A personal experience for me was a message I recently recieved from a friend I had known, and tried to be an upstander for, for years. “ You are really nice to everyone and you stick up for what's right, and you speak up when something's not or when someone is treating somebody badly. You speak for those who can't or won't speak for themselves. You're a really good friend” (Smith). After years of watching people trying to use and bully her… and me always doing whatever was necessary for them to stop. I was always scared that nothing I did would change things. This was really nice, because it showed me that those actions, and sacrifices, did really help her and others out. Sometimes being an upstander is as simple as being someone who listens to others. Gianna was bullied and ridiculed a lot throughout elementary, and middle school. She never had anyone fight, or defend her, but she did have someone listen. “I never told anyone about me getting bullied… except for Culo. He didn't say anything. He just listened and that's all I needed. Sometimes that's all you need” (Lancellotti). Something so easy helped her get through such a hard time in her life. It kept her going. In Korri ClarkWilt`s lifetime she has dealt with a lot. Especially when it comes to addiction, and other mental disorders. Alcoholism runs in her family, and she has helped many siblings get through it. “If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.” She quoted this describing how unless you are acting as an upstander to stop the problem then you are part of the issue by being an enabler. She shows how important upstanders are all throughout life. You have the ability to make lives better, doing anything less is a waste.


An upstander is an amazing, and necessary person in society, who is easy to become. Everyone can be an upstander. There are examples of them and their actions all around you. Upstanders are people who do the right thing, and make the world a better place. Everyone needs an upstander in their life at least once, and everyone should be an upstander for someone else when they need it.




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