To tell the truth is to defeat evil

Silence is complicity

I’ll admit it. I’m guilty.

I’ve tried to please too many people. To not make waves. To forgive and forget. To be a nice guy.

So I’ve held my tongue. Watched my words. Kept a low profile.

Like Rodney King’s wailing lament, I’ve asked “can’t we all just get along?” Those who consider themselves to be good-hearted people would probably agree with the sentiment. There must be a common ground… we’re more alike than different… surely we can compromise?

But recently I’ve begun to question my belief that non-confrontation is the best route to dialogue. That being nonjudgmental is the key to avoid offending others. That quiet righteous indignation is preferable to constructive criticism.

What if my self-imposed silence is actually fear? What if my caution is actually cowardice?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” words attributed to Edmund Burke, remind me of the tremendous cost of not standing up, of not speaking out.

A wall of truth in Guatemala City

It is happening right now. As those of us who hope to be good… to be nice… to just get along remain silent, evil gains ground. And I don’t use that term lightly or easily. I mean evil.  Bold-faced, underscored evil.

An evil that manifests itself in ignorance, division, hatred, populism, nationalism, fanaticism, racism, sexism, classicism, homophobia, slander, lies, greed, poverty, corruption, militarization, criminalization, injustice, threats, violence and murder. (etc.)

My silence makes me complicit in that evil.

I confess that I am afraid. Truth-telling is not without risk, not without cost. To raise your voice is to risk the response of those dedicated to maintaining the status quo. To speak out is to challenge those who practice evil and benefit from evil.

Whatever the cost to be paid, however, it is nothing compared to what I would stand to lose in being silent and complicit.

One thought on “Silence is complicity”

  1. I admit that I too struggle with that incessant need to speak up in the face of injustice and evil and that just as inherent need to be liked.
    How often have I been complicit in my silence?
    How many times have I let fear guard my tongue when a prophetic word needed to be spoken?
    When has this growing frustration over this country’s divisiveness and my premature acquiescence to the belief that those on the “other side” or with differing points of reference won’t even hear what I have to say – kept me from ever trying?
    I pray for both the courage to speak as well as the words that are grounded not in my own self, but in the One who has called us to “do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8)

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