I can’t stop thinking about this thing that happened to me. I can’t focus on anything else and I feel deeply hurt. I have been working for this guy the past month – at what seemed to be the most amazing job. Not only amazing but also perfectly tailored for me – travel writing, projects coordination, translations… And after 2 years of really hard and unsuccessful job hunt, I believed this amazing job would be my prize. Unfortunately, we do not live in fairy tales and when something seems too good to be true – more often than not it turns out to be so.
Today, I no longer have that job. Not only did I “lose” the job – I didn’t get paid for the work I’ve done in the first place. Not only did I lose the job and didn’t get paid for the work I’ve done – in return for being professional and correct I got treated like shit, which hurts me most. So now, not only my wallet and my resume feel bad – I feel worthless as a person.
It’s not the first time that I or somebody else has been screwed over, and sadly but probably it’s not the last time either. But more than feeling the financial loss, I feel the loss of human dignity. I feel as if I’m not valuable, as if my work is not valuable, and as if my hands are tied because there is no way I can retrieve the money or the respect that I have earned.
When I lived in Kuala Lumpur, there was this 23 year old Indian girl that got punched by a taxi driver in the street after she stood up for herself. One of the reasons I left KL was the fact that men in the street (especially taxi drivers) stare at you, whistle, blow kisses, say very sexist and inappropriate things and you’re not supposed to do anything about it because – hey, they’re men??!! So this girl decided not to shut up – she told the taxi drivers who were calling her names they shouldn’t talk to women that way. Then she got beaten up by one of them! Later on, the taxi driver was imprisoned and she wrote this article about the incident. And I’ll never forget her powerful words – she said she could have passed by and ignored the sexist things they were saying as most women do. She also said she’s glad she hasn’t – because that kind of behavior (ignoring and just passing by when someone deprives you of your rights as a human being) allows them to continue doing that! Her bruise will disappear but the powerful message she sent won’t!
And of course most people don’t want to fight, of course most people are scared to do so, of course we’d rather not even be in situations where we are deprived of our rights. But when we do get into these situations – should we fight or simply turn the other cheek??
If we fight only to achieve moral victory, there is no point – because you cannot achieve moral victory in a battle with an immoral person. If we fight only to fight the bully back, there’s no point – because then we’re acting the same way the bully is. If we fight only to teach the bully a lesson, there’s no point – because that is an equivalent to fighting against windmills. But I truly feel that if we do not fight for our rights as human beings at all (whether it’s against sexist statements, unpaid work or for whatever reason) we allow the immoral people to walk all over us again and again, and we place ourselves voluntarily in the roles of the victims. An individual may not change something on a global scale – but as far as I know the globe consists of a whole bunch of individuals. And is there a better way to change something on a global scale than starting from an individual scale?
I am tired of turning the other cheek, I am tired of letting things go because it’s the easier way out, I am tired of being quiet due to fear, I am tired of seeing hard working and valuable people trying to make ends meet, I am tired of seeing immoral people walking all over the valuable and hard working ones… I am tired of living in a society where the more you can steal the richer you are and the harder you work the poorer you get. And most of all I am tired of all the cheek turners that justify the never ending theft of value, dignity and human rights.