The status quo is not kind. It works overtime to stay the status quo, and that means that new ideas, urgent pleas and cries for justice are rarely easily voiced.
We're pleased that Annie Kenney stood up for a woman's right to vote all those years ago, even if she got arrested for doing so. And we're proud of Elijah Harper, who brought a debate to a standstill when he stood up for the rights of indigenous people. We're glad that Lois Gibbs stood up to fight for the families near Love Canal, and that Rachel Carson was able to save countless lives by blowing the whistle on how we were poisoning ourselves.
The historical examples are pretty much beyond dispute. When we think about the past, our heroes are those that were willing to persist even when their critics tried to silence them.
Where it becomes challenging is when someone around us chooses to speak up. Today. Now.
It might be someone in HR who risks his job to report the boss to the board. Or it might be an unlikely activist, standing up for a cause that wasn't on our radar. It might be someone in accounting who has found a better way to do things, or an unknown with no power or authority who stands up and says, "follow me."
We can't judge those that challenge the status quo merely on their rule breaking. Because the rules only exist to maintain the status quo.
Instead, we have to work ever harder on seeing, listening and supporting the quiet voices who have something important to say. Perhaps, if we listen a bit harder, we'll be able to do the right thing that much sooner.