What will you fall for? The importance of taking a stand

Trevor Schwab

More stories from Trevor Schwab



55 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stood behind a podium in front of the Lincoln memorial. It was 80 degrees, the sun shining, thousands gathered to watch one of the most celebrated activists give a speech that would change the world as we know it. As he spoke, people were hypnotized, his words were as beautiful as any orchestra or opera. He spoke with the confidence that convinced millions to change their ideals, and as he spoke millions gained hope. Hope that one day all will truly see themselves are equals, not greater or lesser than one another. Hope for a better future, for their children and for their children’s children. Hope, that one day we may gather side by side, and set aside our differences in order to better not only ourselves, but all of mankind. A dream in which I Quote: “When we allow freedom to ring,when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands.” As he spoke, tears of joy flowed from the eyes of millions that had been exploited for too long, and those that had watched their neighbors and fellow americans be mistreated for far too long, wept too. Yet these tears of joy could only last for so long, five years later King was assassinated, the man that had been to the mountaintop had his life taken due to his beliefs. Dr. King stood for justice and equality for all, his dreams would help make the dreams of millions at home and abroad a reality. He paid the ultimate price for his stance, yet he never doubted what he stood for.

As humans, one of our favorite pastimes is imagining a better tomorrow, making the world a better place, the problem that many of us have is how to achieve something that’s actually doable, how to achieve something that doesn’t require us to do the impossible to succeed. Thats why so many people have been attracted to the idea of taking a stand. Such a simple act, but it’s the most important thing we can do to bring about change. Even though it’s often described as a seemingly easy act, taking a stand isn’t as easy as it may seem. In order to truly take a stand, in order to achieve something that is doable, in order to make the world a better place, we must get over our fear of ridicule and criticism, and it will take work, but we have our hands in the proverbial cookie jar, all we must do is reach a bit farther.. There has never been a human being on this planet, that could not take a step towards towards doing something that they truly believe in. We are fully capable of changing the world for the better, yet oftentimes our fears get in between us and making a difference. But how exactly has taking a stand impacted the world we live in?


The odds have been stacked against those who have taken a stand throughout history, yet because of the actions of these brave and selfless people, our world has changed for the better. In 1775 Patrick Henry urged his fellow Americans to stand against the tyranny of the British crown, despite the immeasurable power of the British empire, he had decided that freedom from oppression, a freedom to form our own political opinions, freedom to form our own behaviors, and the freedom to our very own ways of life was worth taking a stand for. He said I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” He helped convince the american populous that they, and no government across the ocean, were the only people that could control their destiny. Be he was not the only one that would lead his fellow humans to a better life. Lets fast forward 155 years, and travel halfway across the world to India. After hundreds of years of colonial rule, the citizens of India had enough of seemingly endless exploitation by the British. One man decided to lead the people of his country that he loved so dearly to a better life. A life where people were free from restrictions that made it impossible to make a living, a life where everyone could create a better life for themselves, and be freed from the iron ball and chain of taxes and censorship. Gandhi led thousands to protest the exploitation that had far too long plagued the Indian people. So that one day, they may be free to spend time in the Sun that rose over an independent India, so that one day people would not be driven into poverty to pay taxes, so that one day anyone could make salt and a life for themselves in a free land. The world as we know it today has been shaped by those who have taken a stand, from the likes of Patrick Henry, to Gandhi, to MLK JR, the past has had numerous people make changes for the benefit of our society. Yet taking a stand is not something that we may leave in the past, because taking a stand today is just as important as it has been throughout history.


As we speak millions are living in poverty, millions across the globe are being forced to work for mere dollars a day, while toiling away for countless hours in overcrowded and dangerous sweatshops. The highest paid of these workers makes around $13 a day. These are people that go home to their houses that often are no more than a cardboard box, these are people that try to survive off of one meal a day, these are people that have families to care for, small mouths to feed, yet they are voiceless. Elvira, a woman from the Philippines was forced to work for up to 20 hours a day, living on no more than a piece of bread and a cup of tea, but eventually she escaped. The reality is that most aren’t as lucky as Elvira, some are forced to toil for their entire lives, wishing that that they could stand up from themselves, wishing that not another day passes before someone frees them from their torment, but for most that day never comes. These people are brothers, sisters, children, moms, dads, friends, yet they are viewed as animals. This kind of exploitation is all too common in third world countries yet what is most saddening about her story is that this all happened in London. A place that supposed to provide a safe haven and new opportunities to people of all walks of life. The beauty of taking a stand is that it lets people that have the opportunity to stand up advocate on the behalf of those that cannot stand up for themselves. In our age of social media, it seems that everyone has a voice, yet what we don’t realize is that the voiceless still exist in our world, and they are metaphorically and literally gagged by the unfortunate situations they find themselves in.


In 2004 alone Elton John donated $43 million to various charities used to fund education and health services in third world countries. This often makes change feel so out of reach for those that aren’t famous, or those that live paycheck to paycheck, and are just getting by. However the ability to take a stand is not exclusive to the rich, powerful, or educated. The majority of people have the ability to take a stand, many just don’t know how.


First, find what you are against and flip it. Patrick Henry was against oppression of his fellow americans, so he took a stand for liberty. Gandhi was against exploitation of all that were trapped under the boot of imperialism, and took a stand for indepence. MLK Jr. was against the unequal treatment of his brothers and sisters, so he stood for equality, so that no one would have to go through what he and his people went through. Second, when you find something worth taking a stand for, don’t hide it. When the room is quiet, shout. Because when the opportunity arises to gain more support for your cause, you have little choice but to take it. And when the room is loud, whisper. Because people want the opposite of what they are given by everyone else, and when you gain their attention, then you should shout. You must convince others that you eat, sleep, and breathe all that you stand for. Finally, aim to change the world, because if you aim to change the world and only change one person, than you will have changed their world for the better, and you will have made a difference.


We must teach ourselves to be builders, but not always in the sense of walls or roads, but in the sense of hearts and minds as well. We as humans have done amazing things when we have taken a stand. We’ve gained the right to live life free from restrictions that keep us from living our own lives, thinking our own thoughts and believing our own values. We’ve gained the right to be free from oppression, the right to build our careers and lives free from any force that wishes to exploit us. We’ve championed equality, called for the equal treatment of every man, woman, and child on this planet, we’ve made the dreams of so many of the exploited and oppressed a reality, by giving them the ability to build their own destinies and the ability to see a sunrise that signifies a beginning of a new day. That is what happens when humans take a stand, that is what happens when we convince others that we eat, sleep and breathe what we stand for. But there’s still work to be done. So that the voiceless may be heard, so that we may see the unseen, so that someone may take a stand for the mothers, and fathers, and sons, and daughters, of those that cannot stand for themselves, we must take a stand for those that see not a sunrise, but a sunset. In the end we all must stand for something, because if we stand for nothing, then what will we fall for?