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“No! Pick all the vegetables!” my father told me firmly, “they are all nutritious!”
“But that’s not what the teacher said!” I retorted, showing him my notes. “See? Here’s the list of vegetables that we talked about in class.”
“Then she’s wrong. They’re all nutritious!” my father replied.

Seeing the stern look on his face, I begrudly checked all the boxes to the multiple choice question that asked, “Which of the following is nutritious?” I wondered what I was going to say when the teacher asks me why I picked all the vegetables in the list.

It had been a tradition ever since I was little. I would do my homework the moment I got home from school each night, and my father would check my homework for mistakes. He would tell me how many mistakes I had made in my homework, and I would need to find all of them before going to bed. Of course, in situations like the one above, where we disagree on the answer, it may take many many passes before we sit down and discuss the problem in question.
“Warren, will you come up to the table please?” my teacher asked me in front of the entire class.
I gritted my teeth and walked up to the table, knowing exactly what this was all about.
“For this question, why did you check all the boxes?” the teacher inquired. I had been the #1 student in her class for the entire year, so her confusion was quite understandable.
“Because everything is nutritious,” I replied, remembering exactly what my father had said the night before.

The teacher couldn’t help but laugh, at what I presume to be the strangeness of the situation. After all, I’m sure she could see how that answer made sense. Yet, she asked me, “So, is a table nutritious?”

Unsure of what to say, I returned to my seat.

While this experience wasn’t particularly pleasant for me, it’s really not nearly as bad as it sounds. Memories like these form the basis of my character today and is probably why I am a scientist. That day, my father handed me a very important lesson. He taught me to stand up for what is right, even if the stance is unpopular. He taught me to question the things that I have been taught, because they may be incorrect.

I also learned that standing up for what is right often meant taking an unpopular stance and earning the disapproval of my peers. However, disapproval is really not all that bad. Sure, the teacher and the whole class laughed at me, but so what? Life went on the next day, and I am all the better for it. Nothing was lost, while I probably earned the respect of my classmates.

Don’t be afraid to do what you feel is right. Most of the time, the worst thing that will happen is that some people will disapprove. However, like most of people’s opinions about stuff, it’s usually a fleeting thing. Just let some time pass and people will forget. A few weeks (or maybe months/years) from now, no one will care except you. Why not make your long term memories ones you are proud of?

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3 Responses to “A Lesson In Standing Up For What You Believe In”

  1. Robert Rand on September 13th, 2007 11:59 am

    Doing what you feel is right is often the hardest lesson in life to learn. I have often been faced with difficult decisions and have learned to trust my instincts and trust myself in those situations. If you stand up for what you believe in and use your inner compass when facing difficult decisions you will always come out stronger for it regardless of the outcome. My decisions do not always turn out correct, but I can live with them without regret.

  2. Carnival of Family Life | Real Life on July 22nd, 2010 9:30 pm

    [...] inspiring story about a father teaching a son how to stand up for what he believes in.” A Lesson In Standing Up For What You Believe In is posted at Personal Development for [...]

  3. Joe on May 28th, 2011 4:26 pm

    I was for war, now pacifist…my peers were shocked first, but after a few days its ok…they treat me better now than ever as war was not my calling rather peacemaker.