Author photo

By Mel Makaw
contributing writer 

Standing up for others

On the Bright Side


December 9, 2023

Mel Makaw.

From time to time, I receive interesting stories from friends and readers that I like to share with you in this space. Today is one of those days; please enjoy this special story by (that most prolific) Author Unknown:

First lecture; the professor enters the lecture hall and looks around.

"You there in the 8th row. Can you tell me your name?" he asks a student.

"My name is Sandra" says a voice.

The professor says to her, "Please leave my lecture hall. I don't want to see you in my lecture."

Everyone is quiet. The student is irritated but slowly packs her things and stands up. "Faster please" she is asked. She doesn't dare say anything and leaves the lecture hall.

The professor keeps looking around. The remaining students are scared.

"Why are there laws?" he asks the group. All are quiet. Everyone looks at the others.

"What are laws for?" he asks again.

"Social order" is heard from a row. Another student says, "To protect a person's personal rights." Another says, "So that you can rely on the state." The professor is not satisfied.

"Justice," calls out a student. The professor smiles; she has his attention.

"Thank you very much. Did I behave unfairly towards your classmate earlier?" Everyone nods.

"Indeed I did. Why didn't anyone protest? Why didn't any of you try to stop me? Why didn't you want to prevent this injustice?" he asks. Nobody answers.

"What you just learned you wouldn't have understood in 1,000 hours of lectures if you hadn't lived it. You didn't say anything just because you weren't affected yourself. This attitude speaks against you and against life. You think as long as it doesn't concern you, it's none of your business. I'm telling you, if you don't say anything today and don't bring about justice, then one day you too will experience injustice, and no one will stand before you. Justice lives through us all. We have to fight for it."

Isn't that a great little story?

In everyday life, at work and at leisure, we tend to want to live in a safe little you-OR-me world instead of the more loving you-AND-me world. We think that the problems of other people are none of our business or concern; sometimes we're relieved when we don't receive the same mistreatment as others.

But life is also about caring for and standing up for others, especially against bullies or others who act with no thoughts of fairness or kindness. Every day injustices happen in business, in sports, in school, in traffic, in the house next door. Thinking someone else will handle it is not always enough; it's good to be there for others. It is good and right to speak up for others, especially when they can't speak for themselves; for the young, the disrespected, the downtrodden, the neighbor who is picked on or bullied for no good reason.

And it doesn't really take much thinking to know that when injustice happens to someone else and nobody speaks up, that that makes it easier for more injustices to happen to more people... including you and me. If a bully can get away with bullying someone else, who's to say that same bully won't pick on you next?

And the neat thing about standing up and speaking up for someone else is that it often gives other people the courage to stand and speak up. We can't always make a difference when we speak up, but so often we can and do. It's important to take a stand for what you believe in (as the old saying from Alexander Hamilton goes, "Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything"), as much for yourself as it is for the person you are trying to help.

Voices joining together for simple justice can make the world a better place for everyone.

© 2023 Mel Makaw. Mel, local writer/photographer and author of On the Bright Side, a Collection of Columns (available locally at Tehachapi Arts Center and Healthy Hippie Trading Co.), welcomes your comments at


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