# 56 on my, 99 Life Tips – A List is: If a Hitler-like figure shows up in your life, or in the world, do not be Switzerland.
This tip is on my list because I don’t do neutral well. Being that way has worked for me. This history makes it natural for me to encourage you to shun neutrality, too. Sometimes things are black and white. Sometimes there is truth…and lies. In those times, I believe you should be objective, have a large perspective, but do not be Switzerland.
If, like me, you’ve ever been accused of having ”strong opinions”, it’s because you aren’t afraid to speak them. You may take that accusation as a compliment. I do. I mean, who wants to be known as the guy with ”weak opinions”?
Are you neutral because you are unsure, or because you’re afraid?
But, if taking a stand is something you struggle with, let’s consider your situation. Is your difficulty in thinking through a problem, coming to a conclusion, and choosing a side? Or does the fear come from revealing your position, once chosen?
Do you feel intimidated to speak up? If so, ask yourself if it’s because you are unsure of what is right and wrong in the issue at hand, or because you are unsure of yourself?
I can’t know for sure, but I want to believe Switzerland’s leaders knew right from wrong, but they feared the onslaught if they broke official neutrality. They were unsure of themselves, and whether they could withstand the storm of reprisal.
This is an important distinction. If you are unsure of the issue, due to complexity, or nuance, that can be solved by objectively regarding the evidence on both sides, and by an enlargement of your perspective. You can try to see the issue from every side.
Do this remembering there is room in life for a plurality of views. There is a time to be objective. An impartial, nonpartisan mindset assists in this information gathering stage. I’m glad it’s that way. One of my favorite historians, Will Durant, says that being philosophical boils down to having a “large perspective.” I also like that idea.
Widen your perspective to become a more objective thinker
The wider our perspective, the better thinkers we are about all sorts of problems. The more important the issue, the more we should gather and evaluate evidence for ourselves, pro and con, before reaching conclusions. Propagandized spin won’t do. That’s not evidence.
But as much as we may try to incorporate every point of view, and as objective as we strive to be, in the end we are left with our own perception of right and wrong. The scale will tip in one direction or the other. And forgive me if you feel this is too binary, but some things aren’t gray. Sometimes you are faced with actions or issues that are right or wrong. In those times, neutrality on your part may encourage and reinforce the wrongdoer. And encouragement and reinforcement are the neighbors of aiding and abetting.
Redefine success and increase your confidence
So, if your real uncertainty isn’t over the conclusions you reach, but over yourself, this is precisely the opportunity you need to change that. In this case, re-define success. Success is not changing the other person’s mind. It is speaking yours. Regardless of the response. And this success will beget confidence, which will beget further successes.
These opportunities are precisely the chance to prove to yourself that you are the kind of person with the backbone to stand up for what you see is right, and to resist what you believe is wrong.
Once you’ve been objective, enlarged your perspective, and reached your verdict, do not be Switzerland. Don’t cop out. What you gain in self-respect and self-esteem will more than make up for what you lose by resisting the wrong side.