Breakfast was ready and the tea had steeped just the right amount when Dharma arrived. He wasted no time in sitting down to the morning repast I had prepared for him. I poured the tea and Dharma began to speak, "Tadpole, I, too, am deeply saddened by the world news. We are lucky to live in this happy and quiet place. I hope the citizens of this fine swamp are truly grateful for the life we have. I gave a great deal of thought to all the horrible things that are going on all around us and I decided on a subject that I think might help address some of the underlying causes...or at least help with a solution. Irwin, in the end, a frog will remember not the words of his enemies but the silence of his friends. This same sentiment can be applied to governments, as well. When we see something that is hurtful, wrong, and potentially dangerous happening around us and we stay quiet, well, that makes us half complicit in the wrongdoing." And so began my lesson on complicity.
More often than not, frogs and humans alike think that staying silent when they see or hear something that's wrong, they are merely staying out of somebody else's business. And in some. small circumstances, that might be true. For example, a co-worker is dissing about another co-worker's favorite sports team. Everybody's entitled to their own opinion on who should have won the championship. But when it comes to someone attacking others about the really big stuff...race, religion, country of origin, sexual identity, and the like, staying quiet doesn't help. Instead, it adds to the problem. Your silence then means that you agree. The same holds true for governments and their elected officials. If you don't agree with what your elected representatives are saying...or not saying. Let them know! And vote them out of office. After all, they are there to represent YOU and YOUR values and beliefs; not to have long-term employment.
Complicity can mean that to remain silent while someone is attacked, hurt, or physically harmed is to be complicit in the hurting. Watching someone be killed without doing anything to stop it makes you responsible in some way for the killing. It can mean that to remain silent while someone is racist or just plain mean is to allow that racism to continue."
What that means to me is being held accountable for my beliefs through my words and through my actions. My silence makes me at least partially complicit in the wrongdoing.
I asked Dharma to share a few reasons why we all need to speak out when we want most to stay quiet. Here are his top 5 reasons.
1. Staying silent is deemed as approval. "You may think that staying silent keeps you from being involved in any conflict, but quite the opposite. Silence is as much an active form of communication as talking. "
2. The greater good should be the priority. Perhaps you believe as I do, that most humans (and frogs, too) are good-hearted by nature. Yet "many stay silent because they don't want to do any harm by offending or criticizing someone. But when a person [or group] is headed down a dangerous path it's selfish to put your own need to be comfortable above the needs of the others. The effect of your silence could harmful, or even deadly.
3. Demonstrate that you are invested. "Why are you in the conversation in the first place? Someone invited you into the dynamic. If you truly don't have a stake then find a better use of your time. But if you are there for a reason you need to show your commitment to the process and the people involved by being active and vocal. Speaking up is an important form of honesty. Honesty actually builds trust, especially when combined with tact and empathy."
4. No one else may know. "You can't assume the obvious is obvious. Your experience and knowledge have value in a given situation. No one else has your unique perspective. That doesn't mean that everything in your brain is worth communicating, but with a little discretion and thought, you should be able to bring value in most situations.
5. You may not be alone in your thinking. "It's entirely possible that your insightful observations and conclusions have surfaced in the minds of others. Others may share your thoughts and opinions but may be also unwilling to speak up. By speaking your mind you encourage them to voice their opinions as well. If everyone holds back, the bus may silently head over a cliff."
It's up to each of us to do what's right. We can't and shouldn't believe that it's somebody else's job or duty to do so. Someone once said, "The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people." Isn't now the perfect time to speak up? Thank you, Dharma, for giving us some important reasons to be brave in these troubled time when bravery is in very short supply. It doesn't take courage to do horrible things. But it does take courage to speak out against them.
Dharma reminded me this morning that Land of Lily Pad used to be a swamp of only small green frogs. But over the past few decades, frogs of many colors and from many countries have moved to Lily Pad to enrich their own lives and the lives of their children. Not only have we embraced them, but we have flourished because of them. They are now so much a part of lives and culture, that we no longer view them as being different. And they're not. They are just as much Lilypadlians as I am.
Tomorrow is National Happiness Happens Day. And I know you won't want to miss my blog on that! Until we meet again, stay safe and I wish you all