The gratifying result of standing in front of a naked emperor and speaking stems from the exhilarating knowledge that you have called it right, and rightfully.
I’m learning that one stark difference between seeking justice and complaining is the speaker’s motivation. I complain because I feel powerless. I seek justice because I am powerful, and I want to use that power to correct the collateral impact of another’s careless choice.
I’ve asked the question here so often, and now I answer it. You may speak out against harm. Your calling treachery and misdeeds by their name protects the immediate victim as well as the miscreant’s future victims.
Speak of the action, not the actor. Speak of the result. Call it loud: “I do not like it when you hurt people. Your chosen behavior has caused pain.” Stand between the actor and the object of the action. Don’t seek retribution; seek protection. Strive to protect.
Say this: I see you. You strut down the road as though dressed in finery when in reality, you wear no clothing, not even the tattered cloth of beggars.
Say this: Your choices impact people, some of whom cannot hide from the blows. Your choices impact me, and I choose to protect myself from your exercise of free will.
Identify the actions of the person who chooses to inflict pain or to act without thought of how their actions will inflict pain. If they persist in their chosen course of action, leave their presence — literally and figuratively. Call it what it is: You choose to act with disregard for the pain you cause others. I choose to distance myself from you.
They will retaliate. They will tell you that it’s your fault. They’ll say you are difficult, ridiculous, delusional. Let them speak. If you honor your truth and live your values, their words mean nothing to you. Call them by their name: NAKED; and walk away. That’s not complaining. Truly.
It’s the nineteenth day of the forty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.