Have you ever had thoughts like this?

“Something feels wrong about this. I want to do the right thing, but I don’t want to draw attention or look foolish. I don’t want them to make fun of me or reject me for being different… I better just go along with them, and do it anyway.”

Most of us can relate to this inner struggle, right? As children, as teens, and even as adults, we may have been timid about doing the right thing if it meant going against the grain. The Rawhide guys know what this feels like. Many of them have made poor decisions and struggled with this inner battle. One of our goals is to build character and give them the confidence to stand up for what’s right.

Character and Courage

“We need to have a sense of moral justice in our approach to unethical behavior, so it disturbs something deep within our character when we see it… Courage comes in confronting those feelings inside and taking action.” – Mark S. Putnam[1]

Deep down, our guys probably know the difference between right and wrong. However, they might not recognize it right away, especially if they’ve been persuaded or taught to do wrong most of their life. We want the Rawhide guys to be able to:

  • Recognize an error in judgment
  • Understand the immorality of a wrongdoing
  • Courageously confront if appropriate and refuse to partake in the behavior

While it may seem simple in theory, being courageous enough to take a stand can be difficult in reality. Whether confronted with spreading gossip, committing unlawful actions, or something in between; standing up for the right thing takes courage!

What Are We Afraid Of?

Many of us, like the Rawhide guys, have been scared to stand up for what is right. We often imagine the worst will happen, such as:

  • Rejection, disapproval or even abandonment from those whose opinions seem to count
    • Perhaps we need to reevaluate why we value opinions of certain people
  • Damaged image or relationships with friends, family, or peers
    • Especially if we’re trying to project a certain image in order to be accepted
  • Retaliation from the wrong doers
    • Their reaction is an unknown factor, and we may fear harm will come to us

What Happens When Standing Up For What Is Right?

Bullying is an all-too-common occurrence in schools today, often leading to tragic consequences. Imagine you’re with a group of students that picks on an individual, humiliating him publicly or even tormenting him with harmful pranks. And they are getting ready to bully him again. Your “comrades” find his fearful reactions humorous, yet something inside tells you it’s wrong. You instinctively push the feeling aside because you don’t want to jeopardize your standing in the group. “It’s just a joke” you rationalize to yourself. Yet, as you look around, you catch fleeting glimpses of unsure looks from one or two other guys. You wonder if they have the same feeling but are also afraid to say something to the group’s instigator. Spotting these unsure glimpses sparks bravery within you. So you summon the courage to take a stand this time and place yourself between the intended victim and the perpetrators.

The story can end in a variety of ways. One or more of your original fears may occur, such as being ostracized from the group or verbally assaulted. However, by standing up for that student, you also took a stand for yourself. It may be time for a new group of friends. Standing up for what is right can pave the way for others to make a stand in the future as well. We desire that the Rawhide guys learn that doing the right thing in a world full of wrong might not be easy, but it makes a difference—for themselves and others.

1 Ethics in Action: The Courage to Stand Up, Global Ethics University,