A little while back, I got in a fight with a man.
We were in a public place, and the man was trying to show a teenage girl how to do something. The girl looked miserable, and she looked at me imploringly, as if to say “help me.” I turned in to see why she was in distress.
Immediately, I heard the man was verbally abusing her, berating her in a demeaning way. He was belligerent, loud, and very angry.
The girl started crying, in that convulsive kind of crying where you can’t stop sobbing, and I saw her wiping tears off her face.
The man kept bullying her, and then I witnessed him slap her on the leg, and then I heard him say “don’t make me lose my patience.”
I am not a brave person. I avoid conflict with people I don’t know. Everyone knows it’s foolhardy to get into altercations with strangers. And yet at that moment, something in me burst.
I marched over and, with full force, told the man if he did not stop immediately, I would call the police.
I am not suggesting any of you put yourself in danger. But even though it was risky, even though it was outside of our conventional norms of “look away” or “don’t get involved,” I’m glad I stepped in. The party line is that we are supposed to “report to the authori- ties” and stay out of it. And of course, this is for our protection. But sometimes, there isn’t time for that.
Sometimes, abuse is happening right there in front of us, and we have to take care of it, step up and speak out, right then and there.
I feel this way about kids getting abused, especially because I have worked with so many of you who have experienced verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in your past.
I feel this way about people getting abused for their race, or their nationality, or their religious affiliation, or their gender, or their sexual orientation, or their body shape or size or physical chal- lenge, or anything else that makes them vulnerable or disenfran- chised. I feel this way about animals getting abused. I also feel this way about nature.
We must step up together.
We must stop bullying when we see it.
We must say No More Victims in this new world we are building.
There is a time to be peaceful and loving, and there is also the moment you need to be a Spiritual Warrior.
When that time comes for you, as it did for me in this experience, I hope you will respond.
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