• Carmen Milligan

When there is no one behind you

“If you think you’re leading, but no one is following, then you are only taking a walk.” - Unknown

Have you ever gone out on a limb, only to hear a sickening crack?

My mom and I were talking about this the other day, while we were out celebrating my Nanny's birthday, who would have been 96!

Anyway, she and I are both natural leaders, speak our minds, and are willing to say what others only think. That puts us in a precarious position. Have you ever heard the quote from Joe Louis, "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die"? It's the same thing. They want the benefit without the work. They want the reward without the sweat.

In her case, a group of discontent Sunday School women lathered one another up about a decision that had been made, and asked mother and another woman to head to the church office to present their case. Well, mother had no issue speaking, but when she looked over at her "partner", she found a mute.

Oh, yeah! Everyone wants their opinions and preferences known, but if it goes against the grain or there is any confrontation at all, they want someone else to do it. They're not putting their neck on the line. Not when they can find another neck. And they gladly hold it still on the chopping block.

I don't know how many times this has happened to me. I remember that someone in my journaling group was talking about a mole on someone who had posted pics of herself in her journal. She said that she thought the other woman needed to have it checked. "Carmen, you should say something to her." Really? You think I should mention something to her that I hadn't even noticed, which is absolutely none of my business, because you are concerned? "You do it. You are the one who noticed it," I replied. "I'm not going to say anything!" she retorted.

The story of my life.

Too many times, I have said it. I have taken it to leadership. I have pleaded the case. I have stirred the pot. And when I look behind me for encouragement and support, this is what I see:

I used to write a monthly column for the local paper, until the owner broke up with me (that's another story for another time). My articles were usually something a little controversial going on in the community, like the county stopping recycling (I mean, honestly, why in the hell would local government stop recycling in this day and age?!), the school superintendent's questionable and very fast contract extension, and the development of a piece of land that should have been left undeveloped (it's still sitting there unused, by the way). You would not believe the number of people who told me that they loved my writing, and that they felt the same way. And yet, there were no letters to the editor of support, no calls to the paper with those sentiments, and no mentions on social media. Just crickets. Because I had done the work.

So, to all of you who want others to put themselves out there so your life can be easier, better, more convenient, or in any way positively changed while you sit back and watch the show: Fuck you. Those of us who have the balls to do it are sick of walking that gangplank. Do it yourself, or get used to status quo.

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