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“Shame off you,” he said.
It was the first time I’d heard that term, and I was a little taken aback until I realized that he was exactly right. Shame is something we wear, like a wet, smelly blanket someone dons for no good reason. Some bully at some point threw it over the person’s shoulders, and unless that person chooses to shrug it off, there it stays, and the bully wins.
If shame stays on that person, it will saturate everything in their life and leave an odor that eventually the wearer and those around them just get used to. Shame might become an excuse for failure, or a tool they use to manipulate others. Shame dominates the individual wearing it, or it’s a weapon in the hands of those who wield it. It’s more dangerous than a virus, more destructive than a riot, and more deadly than a bullet.
Has anyone been shaming you lately?
Perhaps you’ve endured shame for wearing or not wearing a mask. Or, have you been silent about world events for fear of being shamed out of the public discourse? Are you being shamed because you stand for the National Anthem and honor America and its history? Are you a doctor being shamed by the media because you dare to testify about your first-hand experience?
If so I have a word for you: Shame off of you.
Shame off as you stand with your hand over your heart, lift your eyes to that bright beautiful flag, honor all that it represents, and sing your heart out. You live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, even though your kneeling teammates may not understand that. Shame off them, too.
Shame off you as you walk into the grocery store and enjoy the benefits of plentiful and affordable goods, available because of a Capitalist system that has lifted more people out of poverty than any other system in history. As you walk the aisles with or without a mask, hold your head high, smile, and greet your neighbor, because only you get to decide how best to take care of your family.
Shame off you as you stand before the memorials of those who came before — moved and humbled by their sacrifice, and emboldened with the fortitude to do likewise in your own era against threats similar to the ones faced by the figures immortalized in bronze.
Shame off you as you gather together in worship, and lay hands on one another in love and obedience to a higher authority. Let the world know that no matter how many lies are allied against truth, no matter how forcefully the powerful attack liberty, and no matter how many people you care about are deceived into complacency, you will refuse to hang your head in shame.
Those who perpetuate shame have a distinct characteristic that may seem familiar to you. They’re just like the schoolyard bullies of days past. They mock, ridicule, lie and want nothing more than to feel superior in their own insecurity. They harbor pain, live in fear, and seek to diminish others to avoid being alone in their despair.
Not that long ago there was a universally recognized two-step process for handling a bully: Step 1, ignore them and move on. If they persisted to attack, one was forced to move on to Step 2: Stand up to them.
For the last four months, we’ve seen a lot of Step 1 playing out. It hasn’t worked. The bullies have become emboldened and fear neither reproach nor reality. They’re intent on winning and they’re using shame to do so. But though shame can be a powerful weapon in the hands of a bully, its effectiveness is dependent on one thing: Consent.
Which leads us to Step 2.
Nobody can shame you without your consent, and it’s high time the bullies understand that. Make no mistake. Standing up to the bullies may cost you everything, maybe even your life. This year many brave people have discovered that holding their heads high makes them easy targets.
Of course, the bullies also fear the truth. They combat it, distort it, and when all else fails…they delete it. To those who are standing in the fire of media elites, hell-bent on shaming those they disagree with: Shame off you.
The bullies will soon turn their ire toward the next target, because like a virus, shame needs a host to survive.
But also like a virus, there is a way to defeat it. You defeat shame by taking a deep breath of fresh air as you lift your smiling face to the shining sun. You defeat shame by taking obedient steps, walking in truth, and speaking it with your head held high.
In short, you defeat it by being shameless.Published in