Monday, August 4, 2014

Your silence is your assent

When your friends, or family members, or co-workers launch into that familiar diatribe of hatred, it is very often in complete confidence that they won't be interrupted or contradicted. It doesn't take an ounce of courage to be part of a lynch mob; and it takes no courage to be a loud cheerleader for these new wars in which someone else is going to fight and die.  Can you name a neocon who fought in Vietnam?  They're all about the right age.  What about the two most famous, former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney [five deferments] and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz [student deferments also kept him safely at home]?

It takes courage to stand up to these cowards who talk so big, but in reality, can't back up their words by demonstrating real character.  What they like to think of as "patriotic" is, more often than not, simply a vicarious "hero-worship" that's more appropriate to a teenage mentality.   Stand up to them.  You don't have to offer an elaborate or eloquent argument (trust me, you won't get one in return). You don't have to be louder or more "in their face".  You only have to stop them with a "I'm not so certain that's true ..."

When you speak up to haters, no matter how quietly; when you offer an opposing position, no matter how tentatively ... you have done your part; you have sowed that seed, because you have shown others that there is another side, equally as strongly felt, and usually better grounded in reason.

Your silence, however, will almost always be interpreted as tacit agreement.

Nothing that has happened in this nation in the past 12 years years has frightened me as much as the passive complacency and silent assent exhibited by my countrymen and countrywomen who I believe knew perfectly well that they were giving their consent to actions that were morally and ethically wrong.

Show a backbone.  It only takes a few spoken (or written) words ... but most of it takes the courage to be seen and to be heard.

I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.  We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

– Elie Weisel, Auschwitz survivor

A dozen years ago, Americans gave their silent assent to actions that have since proven wrong and immoral; Americans should have deep regrets for their weakness.

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