It frustrates that bad things tend to stay bad for so long. The other night I had drinks with an old friend. She told me her husband had struck her to the ground during some petty argument about coming home late from work.
She showed me a snapshot on her phone of the bruises she sustained on her arm during her altercation. The black and blue was obvious.
Instead of being shocked at what she told me, I started to feel angry. 90% of my anger was directed towards him. The remaining 10% was frustration towards her for not reporting him or just leaving him.
You see, this was not the first time my friend said her husband was violent towards her. This was the third time in one year. And who knows how many other times they fought without her telling me.
I asked her why not just get a divorce after seven years of marriage. Divorce doesn't have to derail your life, finances and retirement plans. But, this is what she told me.
“I can't get a divorce because of the social stigma surrounding a divorce. I'm already 37 years old and we're trying to have a baby. Do you really expect me to start over? My family and friends wouldn't understand.
Although we've got into many fights before, he's also been quite caring and a good man. He has a stable job, makes good money, and we live an overall comfortable lifestyle. I'm not willing to throw this relationship away. I think we can make things work.“
It Takes Courage To Fight Off Bad Things
I was sad to hear her response because I would never stick around in an abusive marriage, just like I would never stick around in a bad job situation. After all, I'm the one who negotiated an exit within six months after I decided I had enough of the work BS.
My friend has a great job making over six-figures a year and she would do just fine living by herself for a while in the Bay Area. She'd also receive some additional financial assets in a divorce.
But, I'm not in her shoes and I have a different type of personality. Bad things piss me off and I'm not that type to back down. And, it's easy for me to tell her to get a divorce because I'm not the one getting one!
I'm afraid she will be stuck with him for the rest of her life because she fears how society will judge her more than she cares about her happiness. I feel strongly she will look back on her life and regret not having pursued happiness.
Sticking up for yourself can be scary when you're faced with a lot of bad things. Change is extremely stressful. But these are the risks we all must take to get out of bad situations. It is so sad that the fear of society's disapproval has kept her in a bad situation for so long.
I've encouraged her to at least go to marriage counseling because spousal abuse is absolutely unacceptable.
Growth And Online Abuse
About six months ago, a new podcaster reached out to see if I wanted to be on his show focusing on financial independence. I politely declined because I didn't know him or the show well at the time.
As reference, someone reaches out to me about twice a month to do a verbal or written interview. Many are new podcasters that haven't been around for very long. To manage my inbound requests, I have a general rule that the podcaster or blogger be at least one year old before I say yes. I've also got to like what they're doing obviously.
Several months later, the new podcaster asked if I wanted to join his show again to discuss retiring early in a high cost area of the country. I declined again because I had other priorities. I've talked about this topic enough, and I like going on podcasts where finance isn't the main topic.
He then asked me several months later again to come on his show, this time on the topic of racism. This was probably because he had seen my post on The Importance Of Feeling Consistently Uncomfortable For Personal And Financial Growth. Instead of being on a panel, it would just be me and his co-host talking.
Even though his podcast still wasn't one year old yet, I finally agreed because the topic of racism and finance was never discussed in his predominantly white community. He and his co-host are white as are the majority of their guests. Not a big deal at all as it's their show.
I thought it would be good to share some different perspectives. Further, it feels good helping new creators get off the ground. It's one of my goals with the Financial Samurai Underdog Tour.
Unhappy People Tend To Say A Lot Of Bad Things
Given the size of Financial Samurai, this site and its corresponding social media channels consistently get racial slurs hurled my way. I'm also often told how to think and what to do by other people who are mostly white. Whether it's the Internet Retirement Police or trolls in general, there has been a non-stop parade of haters since I started the site in 2009.
If you're not a minority, it's hard to imagine what it's like going through constant racial badgering everywhere you go – at work, on a bus, at a baseball game, on vacation, online. Just believe me when I say that it is constant. Below is one of many examples that I regularly delete.
Yes, it's sad and annoying to have to deal with this type of stuff your entire life. But you get used to it. We all tend to adapt to bad things.
Then when my son was born in 2017, something changed in me. No longer was I willing to accept online bullying and racial slurs because I don't want my son growing up in this type of environment. The papa bear in me came out and I needed to stand up to this stuff like I did in school.
Bad Things And Bullies
I've always fought back against physical bullies offline. It was the only way to make them stop and apologize. I wasn't afraid of pain or injury. Further, I'm trained in self-defense. I was suspended for fighting a couple of times, but it was worth it to defend my honor.
Now I decided to defend my family's honor from online bullies by writing a page about how to get rid of internet trolls using one person as an example. She had been badgering me on a couple of posts and I had enough.
To make a long story short, the podcaster who repeatedly asked me to come onto his show decided not to run the podcast on my experience dealing with racism because he disapproved of me standing up against an internet troll.
As a relatively new podcaster, he was too afraid of getting bullied himself by others in the community who disapproved of me standing up for myself. He felt that if he published our interview, he would lose some of his audience and therefore lose potential revenue and growth.
I totally get it. As a creator, growth of an audience and the money that goes with it, are the two things you want most. A lot of people also have the need to feel universally loved, which I don't have.
But this is when I realized why bad things stay bad for so long.
Too many people are too afraid to stand up for themselves and to stand up for others who stand up for themselves out of fear of being persecuted by the very people who bully others.
The podcaster kept asking me to come on his show because he knew having me as a guest would help boost his podcast's download figures. But once he started getting negative feedback for running a podcast about one minority's experience dealing with racism on his road to FI, he decided to kowtow to the mob.
The end result is a show that turns into an echo chamber of ideas and opinions because everybody looks and thinks alike. I encouraged the podcast host to at last get some differing points of view if he wasn't going to run mine, and it sounds like he's agreed.
Take A Stand To Break The Cycle Of Bad
It's sad that we cannot all get along. But it's also naive to think that complete harmony is possible in our messy world. We are imperfect. There are assholes, criminals, shady businesses, and scammers out there who will probably never change. Even the best of us have insecurities, frustrations, worries, desires, and hopes. These feelings manifest themselves in good and sometimes very bad ways.
Things stay bad for a very long time because we do not have the courage to stand up for ourselves. I am always reminded of this quote by Martin Niemöller when wondering whether to do something about a bad situation.
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
The only way we can stop bad things from happening for so long is to take a stand. My hope is that all of you take a stand. Have a heart-to-heart with your transgressor, and forgive if they've truly apologized for their actions.
By taking a stand, you are helping to break the cycle. At some point, you will realize you're no longer doing it for yourself, but for your children's future.
Here are some articles for further reading.