Have you ever climbed over a fence before? If your answer is no, you’re such a proper person and I would like you to know that though I admire you greatly, it could never be me. (Insert some super villain cackle here.) I love climbing. I always have. If you were to tell me to get on something that will take me high up right now, you’ll watch my face light up like a Christmas tree at midnight. It was the table in our living room, then my father’s shoulders, then the double bunk bed in our bedroom, then trees… you get the picture.
There’s something fascinating about climbing a concrete fence. And it is the sitting. Whether you choose to face one side and back the other or share equal halves of yourself sitting astride like a horse rider. Sitting on the fence makes you feel so powerful because you get an aerial view of both sides of the fence without being obstructed by shortsightedness. It is such a euphoric feeling. And it does not stop at literal fences.
Social media has made a lot of us more cautious about being vocal about our beliefs, sides and whatnot, while it has made some more brazen. It is such a paradox. The same force that makes some of us shrink amplifies the voices of others, and they do not care if they are wrong. I realised that many of us sit on fences of issues. Issues on social justice, race, culture, politics, climate action & change, sports and even media. Being on the fence can make you feel heady, safe or even proud. Because from up there, you see the mess in both camps and can judgementally shake your head in exasperation. You can look at those struggling or fighting in these camps as aggressive or too sentimental. You learn to become self-righteous. Avoid being dragged or cancelled. It seems like a safe place to be.
Humans, however, were made for choice. We do not have the inbuilt ability to not choose and even not choosing is a choice in itself. So what am I gearing at today? You can be on the fence for as long as you like, investigate, probe, inquire. In fact, I recommend that we get on the fence of so many issues so we can have a full and inclusive picture. Be curious, ask questions. But I do not recommend permanently staying on the fence. A lot of times, it is escapism. And avoiding issues does not make them go away.
Refusing to choose a side on rape today may inadvertently place you in the camp of a rape apologist someday. Not taking a stand on the state of the planet will not exonerate you from the deteriorating wellbeing of planet earth. Not exercising your civic responsibility will not exempt you from bad governance. The fence is defence, but it is a dangerous strategy.
I don’t know if it was watching The Matrix Resurrection that pushed me to this point, but I have been doing a lot of soul-searching. I am not ashamed to admit that my fence-sitting on so many issues was born out of fear. Unfounded fears, but fears nonetheless. It might be so for you too. You have something you strongly believe is right or wrong. Something you are convicted about but are afraid of vocalising it lest the mob come for you. Or that you disappoint other people, or worse, cancel culture comes for your neck. My new mantra is this: We are all gonna die. And one way or another, history remembers people by the values they stood by. I want it to be known that I hate injustice of whatever kind. I want it to be known that I detest oppression and abuse of power. I want it to be known that I love this planet. I want it to be known that I am a Christian. I want it to be known that I was not on the fence on the issues that mattered in my society. Because me choosing a side today can inspire another person tomorrow. Look at the world heroes. Luther, Mandela, Curie, Keller, Gandhi, the list goes on.
The big question is, what if you choose a side and you’re wrong? That’s the elephant we dance around. My response: life is a learning process. And to think you will not make mistakes or be wrong is the greatest mistake of all time. Be ready to be a student. Listen. Learn. Grow. Yes, we can make mistakes. The world may not be nice about it. But are you convinced? So what if you are wrong? You’re not God. Of course, you’re bound to be wrong sometimes. But at least you are actively learning and participating in the world. I’ll stop here today. Please let me know if you’ve had such thoughts too. Let’s talk. Here’s a link to see some everyday people making big impacts by their little choices. I hope it inspires you.🥺💕