Freedom of Expression

My feet wait there listening, and when
they dislike what happens they begin
to press on the floor. They know when
it is time to walk out on a program. Pretty soon
they are moving, and as the program fades
you can hear the sound of my feet on gravel.
If you have feet with standards, you too
may be reminded—you need not
accept what’s given. You gamblers,
pimps, braggarts, oppressive people:—
“Not here,” my feet are saying, “no thanks;
let me out of this.” And I’m gone.

 – from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems by William Stafford

When the “San Diego Chargers” became the “Los Angeles Chargers” my neighbor was having none of it. Offended and mistreated he decided to openly revolt against the change.

That very day, he purchased the team flag of every LA Chargers opponent for the 2017 season and took turns flying them in his front yard on game days. His revolt continues this year.
My neighbor has “feet with standards.”
There’s plenty we should put up with – mature, professional people understand that tradeoffs must be made – and plenty that we shouldn’t. Each of us has to decide where to draw that line.
I believe and practice forgiveness as well as second chances. I also believe that if you tolerate the “gamblers, pimps, braggarts and oppressive people” in your life – especially those in positions of influence – out of a belief that sooner or later they will have an epiphany, figure it out and grow up, you will be disappointed and you will remain stuck.
Draw the line and say these words: “Not here. No thanks. I’m gone.”

DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.



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