A Cautious Man
January 08, 2006
 
"We Keep Pretending That There's Nothing Wrong
But There's A Code Of Silence And It Can't Go On"

It's been on my mind for a while, which you may have gathered from the things I've posted here. I guess it started a couple of months ago, after I attended a talk by Scott Ritter. As I wrote at the time -
When asked what people should do, his answer was very simple - do something. Get out there. Make a statement. Don't wait for the Republicans, for the Democrats, for the New York Times, or for anyone else to talk straight. If more people did that, who knows what could happen?

Anyway, I bought a couple of copies of his new book (to read and to pass on), and took his admonition to heart. We all need to get out and make our voices heard - and no matter how many people we may reach, it helps to keep passing it on.
It continued when I reflected on the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon, and I had this thought -
We can let a performer (or any person) inspire us, but we can't let them be a replacement for us. If we just sit around remembering someone, who once sang "War is over, if you want it", and do nothing else, we're really not keeping him alive, are we?
Just the other day, I was moved by the words written by Mr. Paul Schroeder, who used to live, and who raised his late son (a Marine who died in Iraq), here in my community. He wrote at the conclusion of his essay:
But their deaths will not be in vain if Americans stop hiding behind flag-draped hero masks and stop whispering their opposition to this war. Until then, the lives of other sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers may be wasted as well.
In short, silence is not neutral, now. If you are not heard, you may as well be endorsing what is happening. I was reminded of that yet again today, reading a transcript of Howard Dean on CNN -
BLITZER: About a month ago, Senator Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic vice presidential nominee spoke out, urging his fellow Democrats, including yourself, to restrain themselves in criticizing the president's position on Iraq. Listen to what Lieberman said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander-in-chief for three more critical years, and that, in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you think? Is that advice good advice from Senator Lieberman?

DEAN: No. This president has lacked credibility almost from the day he took office because of the way he took office.

He's not reached out to other people. He's shown he's willing to abuse his power. He's not consulted others. And he's not interested in consulting any others.

And I think, frankly, that Joe is absolutely wrong, that it is incumbent on every American who is patriotic and cares about their country to stand up for what's right and not go along with the president, who is leading us in a wrong direction.
And, finally, this evening I found myself reading an address by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered April 4, 1967 at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City, entitled "A Time to Break Silence". He was discussing the war in Vietnam, but his words are as applicable to our present times -
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." And that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

And some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.
(By the way, you can listen to that address at this link.)

So, to sum up - I feel that there are so many reminders out there that to be silent is to aquiesce. As I've said before, if you approve of what is happening, that is your right. If you do not, then you can't just sit there. Learn about what is going on, make a statement in some way, and contribute to the growing clamor.

You know what to do, so just go and do it.

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