Recently I had booked a flight ticket to Kolkata. A few days prior to the flight, I received a message from the airline that the flight had been cancelled due to “operational” reasons. The message upset me as I had important work to be finished at that time and my schedule had been put in disarray. I called up the airline and complained, which they acknowledged by rescheduling my departure on the same flight the next day. However, when I told them that I needed the return trip to be rescheduled as well, they refused to consider, stating that the same was not due to any flight cancellation and was hence untenable.
I decided to escalate the matter with the airline and wrote to their appellate authority listed on their website. I got a prompt reply from them stating that they were willing to “adjust” Rs.2000 since I had been greatly inconvenienced. I refused that offer and stated that I was willing to bear only half the charges levied for the rescheduling. They finally responded stating that they had waived the entire rescheduling charges.
The above incident got me thinking.
We live frenetic lives, multi tasking every step of the day. Our days are filled with countless things to do and technology – that great enabler ensures that we also need to manage our digital lives, replying to whatsapp, checking mails and updating our social lives online. This relentless pressure to do things takes a toll on us and we then always look for the easiest way out of any situation. Coupled with this pressure is also the way technology has arrayed our lives to make it appear that all good things are only a click away. Any effort which more than a tap of our fingers, is not worth our time.
So, when a difficult situation occurs that throws a spanner in the works, our minds are conditioned to search the easiest way out. Look for the quick fix or even better just ignore the issue, hoping it will go away. Our devious mind also rationalises our inertia by suggesting that the effort is not worth our time. This thought process is actually detrimental to our interests.
My recent experience with the airline is only one example of how if we raise our concerns and our voice against unjust actions, it does reap dividends. To my mind, following is the rationale why we MUST raise our voices/objections/difference of opinion:
To redress a wrong
This is the crux of the matter. We need to ensure our voice is heard so that the unjust action is set right. A wrong if undetected, continues to fester and its impact starts widening in ever increasing circles of inequity and injustice. This is the reason why corrupt politicians think they will never get caught or a business tycoon brazens it out in the UK, while his business flounders back home. Unless the wrong is set right, unscrupulous persons/governments will continue to flourish with impunity, simply because they know that no one is looking to fix the issue.
To highlight the issue
When an action has an unpleasant or unfavourable impact on us and we protest about it, the matter gets noticed. With social media being on 24 X7, our voice of dissent has the ability to reach people (much as this post is doing) and to highlight the unfair. A politician’s wayward son being arrested for his arrogance and wilful violence unleashed on an unsuspecting bystander, an unscrupulous businessman usurping crores of tax payer’s money or a movie being pilloried for a non-existent cause; all such incidents come to the attention of the people and the powers that be. This causes the issue to reach a large number of people – in digital parlance it makes the issue “go viral”.
To set an example
This is an offshoot of the above point. Any wrong or injustice meted out, needs to be held up to public scrutiny so that others may not suffer the misfortunes that one has already undergone. Standing up for one’s rights helps others to muster courage to talk about their woes, either similar or in completely different spheres. The recent outpouring against sexual abuse (#Me too) in Hollywood being a case in point.
To benefit others
It is not only the self that one helps when we speak out against something or take a stand. Our voice of dissent is a call to an organisation/government/society to take note of the same so that others do not suffer a similar fate. When we take a stand, we inspire and pave the way for many others to similarly take up the cudgels on issues of importance to us and society as a whole. Social injustice, government apathy, corporate avarice are just some of the issues that can get noticed and do get rectified in due course of time.
At the end of it all, you feel satisfied that your voice has been heard and your complaint addressed. This helps you feel better about yourself and raises your self confidence to tackle issues or organisations that are obviously bigger than you.
The next time you are confronted with a situation where you are being exploited, take a pause to reflect and raise your voice. Don’t look at sidestepping the issue, even if it means temporary inconvenience to yourself. Make the time to stand up for yourself and your right to fair standards of behaviour.
Many a times you may fail in your quest and the effort may not seem worth it. But there will be that one time when your voice will be heard. Wait for that moment. Pursue the matter till you get to that moment. You will eventually succeed. That’s what will make your stance worth it.