Tag Archives: fear

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.