“Stick it to the man.” It is a phrase that has been around for a while, mostly used as a protest statement or action. “Sticking it to the man” was directed to someone of authority who may have done wrong or just holds too much authority over someone or a targeted group.

Today, sticking it to someone just seems to be a joyful and spiteful poking with no real protest. The only protest is in who they are. Instead of questioning authority or rising against an oppressive power, it is a way to degrade and have others watch, laugh, or join in.

Our political arena is littered with a “stick it to them” message. Derogatory statements gain cheers and chants that turn into a choir of rowdiness. In today’s usage, “stick to the man” is a bystander’s activity, like laughing while a comedian tells the jokes. Bystanders are unproductive. More than being unproductive, they become mindless repeaters with no real understanding of situations, issues, or people.

My concern is that we are encouraging a society of “stick it to them” bystanders. We need more upstanders than bystanders. Too many pollical leaders are rallying harmful and fruitless bystanders.

How do we turn the tide of ranters to thinkers and do-good-doers?

Instead of ingratitude, we need gratitude.

When someone runs for office, whether we agree with them or not, we should be grateful that they stood up and entered the arena. We saw way too many ads of mindless negativity with little to no basis in fact. Gratitude embraces digging in to understand and appreciate a viewpoint. With gratitude, we gain compassion and understanding, and it forces us to think of two sides rather than one.

Bystanders just point fingers. Upstanders appreciate a hand raised and an opportunity to discover the beauty of different viewpoints.

Instead of stickedness, we need kindness.

Sticking it to someone just because of who they are or what they stand for is a form of cowardice. Tearing someone down only makes the person doing it weaker. No strength of character exists here. Kindness demands strength of character. Extending a hand to an opponent or someone who is lost takes character. Speaking up for someone being torn down mindlessly takes character. Meanness is soulless. Kindness is soulful.

Bystanders relish in callousness. Upstanders elevate humanity.

Instead of mindless chants, we need orchestrated positive works.

Mindless chants are for the weak. Negative chants are thoughtless and vacant of any ability to think for yourself. Your character suffers in tearing someone down and so does our community. Rather than hurtful words, we need connected positive actions. The only way to change the world is to do the good work for the betterment of society. Rather than being feckless, be faithful in your ability to make a good works difference.

Bystanders stunt their thinking skills. Upstanders sharpen their good works talents.

Instead of shortsightedness, we need vista views of possibilities.

Too many only see what is in front of them. Too many lack a long view. With a vista view, we see possibilities of what can be built through diverse relationships and capacities. We know the future is something we create through better thoughts, words, and actions. Our time is short, yet we know we can extend our time by what we leave behind – if it means a legacy test. Did we leave a place better than we found it? Place includes better thoughts, higher ground, and durable solutions.

Bystanders are blinded by the immediate. Upstanders are enlivened by what is ahead.

Let’s encourage a society of upstanders.

Leaders have many challenges, but there is no bigger challenge than creating a workplace, community, and society of upstanders. We need to revel in the goodness in people and their willingness to step into the arena. We need to avoid being in an arena of bystanders who are sticking it to someone just for a passing self-centered joy.

Let’s stop sticking it to others and start understanding, appreciating, thinking, doing, and bringing out the best in ourselves and others.


Photo by Lisa Woakes on Unsplash
Stick it to the man was an expression of protest against too much power or wrongdoing. Today, it is a meaningless chant for bystanders. Time to encourage upstanders!