I am being oppressed, should I just stay put and be patient?

Here’s one heartbreaking story. A 21-year-old guy was said to be walking home from a poultry farm where he worked in a night shift, when a military jeep flipped over and trapped him underneath. It was before dawn, and the military was raiding his village.

The locals begged for the jeep to be lifted but the army refused to do it. Alas, he bled to his death as medical aid was said to be denied. Three years later on January 3, 2018, his family got a bill from the army, demanding for $28,000 to compensate for the jeep damage.

He’s now six feet under, and the jeep is what matters to them most!

People around the world are being oppressed in all sort of ways: being exploited or marginalized, through violence, persecution and cultural imperialism. Oppression includes due to race, religion, sex, political party and even mental health.

Trivia: News flash! As a lot of superhero movies did, the currently showing 97%-Rotten Tomatoes-rated Black Panther movie in cinemas is also centered around the message of oppression.

Without putting aside the case of the evidently oppressed and dehumanized people like the Palestinians, simple oppression also happens in our daily life. Exempli gratia; Some people might view the head covering as an oppression to the women, while in fact head covering was recorded in the history of Assyrians and far earlier to ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Persian societies, as well as in Semitic religions, namely Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Having mutual respect and embracing co-existence – although are principally and rhetorically being upheld in today’s modern world – are in fact quite far from what we see in real practice. The developed world is often guilty of starting wars and political meddling in faraway lands, while claiming to promote democracy.

Here comes the million-dollar question: I am being oppressed, should I just stay put and be patient?

The myth of patience debunked

A lot of people misunderstand the concept of patience. To them, patience is about being silent, servile and subservient, i.e. passively accepting the situation you are in, as it has been decided by fate.

This is astonishingly incorrect, substantially in the context of oppression. The result would be submission to an increasingly unjust and despicable behavior from others.

A psychology graduate and international speaker named Yasmin Mogahed portrays this situation vividly: Imagine you are crossing the street and found someone is beating up another person. You just walk away, saying that we should be patient. Hence, allowing this to happen and doing nothing about it.

It sounds wrong or irresponsible on so many levels, isn’t it?

Point is, practicing positive values also means not allowing negative ones to take effect. Being patient should not imply standing by and allowing injustice, abuse and oppression on our fellow human beings.

The comprehensive concept of patience means remaining steadfast for righteousness in the face of obstacles and opposition.

Therefore, patience would encompass perseverance, consistency and persistence. From there comes the ability to withstand hardships, to be steadfast, and also to respond when needed, and also not to respond when appropriate.

At the same time, patience also corresponds to returning the evil actions meted out by others with a fair response.

As a result, being patient for the oppressed would mean standing up and taking action so that the act of oppressing could be prevented.

The comprehensive concept of patience means remaining steadfast for righteousness in the face of obstacles and opposition.

Patience in reclaiming the rights of the oppressed

There is an interestingly crafted saying, which goes, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or whether he is being oppressed.”

It is accepted that we help the oppressed, but helping the oppressor?

It should mean stopping him from oppressing. Well, nobody says that it would be easy, thus it certainly would require a continuous supply of patience along the way.

As for the oppressed, there are three ways of reclaiming their rights:

1. Take back more than his due right, or
2. Take back equal to his due right, or
3. Pardon and forsake his due right.

Of course, there is a thin line between standing up for justice and taking revenge. Here, the role of patience comes into action.

The one with the strongest patience would opt for the third option. In spite of taking back what was lost through right and lawful means is permissible, giving pardon would be a noble and virtuous choice. It is like showing love and a forgiving behavior, which are the highest and most difficult personal traits to practice.

On the other side of the coin, the third option might be less decent to go for, particularly if the injustice involves the public and would affect the whole society. The practice of justice should be upheld, to prevent more occurrence of injustice in the future.

And that is why the family of the guy in the earlier story finally chose to file a lawsuit against the army.

“Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or whether he is being oppressed.”

Take a look around us; nature teaches us a lot about being patient in the face of oppression.

The grand Grand Canyon was not formed free and easy; a huge pressure was involved but the chasm emerges strong.

River still flows downstream for millions of years, plotting its course through the opposing rocks. It percolates and spreads around them, patiently moving forward. It has never hesitate despite the obstacles, it finds a way and never gives up. The rocks seem hard, but the actively patient river wins over.

Behold the true patience of the oppressed.

Do Good. Together, be great.

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