Here's Something I Could Have Done Differently

Photo by Sydney Rae.

The other night I was at a theatre industry awards show. All in all, it was an awesome evening. I love the opportunity to get together with my entire community and celebrate. I always cry some tears of joy/overwhelm a few times in the night, and this one did not disappoint.

I also, for about 30 seconds, sat, frozen, staring at my lap like a deer in the headlights.


Because during one of the speeches, while the recipient was talking about how excited he was that the younger generations are uprooting racism, sexism, and other prejudiced ways of being, another man stood up and started shouting back at him.

I do not know exactly what he was saying, but his point seemed to be that he, and his values, were being left out of the equation.

He was also sitting right behind me and was the husband of a friend of mine.

The recipient on stage handled the whole thing with grace, and fairly quickly (or maybe a million years later), the yeller sat down and the recipient was able to finish his speech.

Meanwhile, I went into body-lockdown, avoided eye contact, and waited for the moment to end.

I have been thinking over that moment ever since.

I can't decide if I wish I had acted differently or not.

What would a true ally do? What would a person whose brain didn't go into panic-freeze mode do? What would a brave and compassionate person do? Heck, what would Jesus do? (He was pretty cool under pressure AND he had a penchant for allyship, after all.)

Would it have been better if I had the presence of mind to think about how unfair this was to the award recipient on stage? If I had been brave enough to stand up and tell the yelling man to sit down? Would that have helped the situation, or would that have just devolved into one more yelling person? Would that have made the whole thing worse for my friend, his wife, who was probably already mortified?

I don't know.

Here's what I do know: my brain has returned to that moment many times over the past few days, not because I need to feel bad about what happened, but to practice.

My brain has practiced being present for a moment like that and understanding the various perspectives on what is happening.

My brain has practiced what it might be like to stand up and say something, and what I might say if I were to do that.

My brain has practiced different reactions to that moment, and now I feel that if (or when) something like that happens again, I will be better prepared. Not necessarily to jump in and be some kind of not-necessarily-called-for hero, but to actually be present in the moment, to assess what is actually needed, and to have the language to step in, if that is the right thing to do.

So that's kind of cool.

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