Over the weekend, I saw a little boy pestering a little girl (I presume his sister). I'd guess they were about nine years old. He poked at her and yelled at her and she responded fairly maturely by ignoring him and going to another section of the park. At one point, the mom called them over for a snack. The boy ignored her but the little girl came over quite promptly. Mom called again, this time annoyed. The boy came running over and shoved the girl out of the way to get his snack first. The girl shouted "That's not fair" and began to push him back when Mom intervened and told her to not make a fuss. Then she gave the boy his snack first and the girl hers second.
Now I get the craziness which comes over parents when no price seems too high to pay for two seconds of peace. I'm betting this mom has to deal with a lot of squabbling and challenges and I certainly don't know the whole story. But since then it's been bothering me that this little girl was told not to speak up when she was wronged.
Too often we are told not to make a fuss, that there's no point in complaining because nothing will change and we will only make things worse. I saw another story where a young woman debated whether or not to speak up after a tour guide made an appalling rape joke while giving her directions in a foreign country. She decided to speak up and got apologies from the company and the young man in question lost his job.
There are always bullies, selfish and inconsiderate people and the flat out ignorant. We are not obligated to fix them but at the same time, we should not allow them to impinge on our own boundaries without consequence. We may decide not to engage, but it shouldn't be the default choice.
I'm not entirely sure where and how those boundaries should be drawn. I'm not for provoking fights and I believe many bullies crave the engagement. But I don't like having to swallow someone else's problem and bad behaviour.
Either way, I think the little girl should have gotten her snack first and been told she was doing the right thing by standing up for herself.