Speak up, speak out

May 21, 2018 § 1 Comment

I understand the movements of peace, love and tolerance for all, but I’m starting to think we’ve fallen so in love with tolerance, that we’ve forgotten that there are some things we shouldn’t be tolerating at all.

We are witnesses and participants of casual racism more often than we care to admit, but we laugh at the jokes anyway. We say nothing when a husband or wife constantly puts the other down. We’ll discuss them in the car on the way home, of course, but we won’t say anything: we don’t want to get involved.

We watch estranged parents using their children as pawns in a battle that isn’t theirs, and we are silent. We witness corruption or tax fraud – sometimes at work, sometimes because our friends brag about it, about how clever they’ve been. Perhaps we even admire them a little.

“It’s not my business,: we repeat, like a little mantra. “I will mind my own business and leave them to mind theirs.”

But it is our business. Because the consequences of those behaviours don’t sit in neat, contained silos. They spread outwards through society, like the clammy fingers of a misty morning, touching everyone they encounter. People are damaged – children are damaged. Government and business coffers are robbed. And the damage quotient goes up and up and up.

And then we pontificate at dinner tables and barbeques about the state of the world: how it’s all going one way. How the country is going to the dogs.

But it’s we who’ve gone to the dogs. We’ve relegated a sense of broader right and wrong to an individual what’s right and wrong for me. And that only works up to a point. Some things are just wrong. Abuse, injustice, murder, rape and robbery for starters – many of which go on all around us in various guises, and are even perpetrated by our friends.

So be tolerant. Be inclusive. Celebrate the magnificent diversity of the human experience and recognise that we all navigate the world differently and have different viewpoints. But also have the guts to speak in those situations that make you uncomfortable – the racist jokes, the constant belittling of a friend by their spouse, the overfeeding of an already obese child.

Because no man, woman or child is an island. Damaged people make for damaged societies – and we have a lot of repairwork to do. Speak up. Speak out.

 

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