Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Your choice

During a discussion about bringing out the truth, one person said, "Least said is easiest mended," and it put me in mind of how that philosophy guides so many people and the damage it has done. Thoughts of Auschwitz and Treblinka, Japanese relocation camps in America, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and so many other things came to mind. How could any of those have existed if people had spoken up in the beginning? And it applies to relationships as well.

How many times has a girlfriend or boyfriend or spouse or companion held their tongue and believed that if they didn't say anything, or said little, that everything would turn out right? How many times did nothing change and get much worse? How many people have suffered in silence because they believed that saying little or nothing would be easier to mend until there was nothing left to mend? Where would we all be if men like Ben Franklin, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and so many other men less famous said little thinking that good King George would see things their way and that Pharaoh would let the Israelites go?

Freedom is a right and a privilege in this country and one we take for granted, expecting someone else will speak on our behalf so we can stand by silent or speaking little and believing that our words don't matter and would take less effort to mend whatever goes wrong? Freedom is like a muscle that atrophies if not used and exercised on a regular basis until before long it is gone.

How many of us would be willing to stand and speak Patrick Henry's words loudly and proclaim, "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" Can we afford to stand by silent and watch, saying little in hopes that what little we say is easily mended and just as easily cast aside and forgotten?

Earlier in his speech, Patrick Henry also said, "Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past."

Oh, if such words had fired the hearts and minds of the people who stood quietly by, saying little, who watched as men, women and children were herded like cattle into railroad cars and transported to the gas chambers and to the living death of the concentration camps and to the isolated and lonely camps surrounded by barbed wire while Americans were relocated. The reasons do not matter because freedoms can be subverted and ignored if people speak the right words that end in the interment of those who are different or unwilling to speak up. There are plenty of people not shy about saying what's on their mind, especially when what's on their mind is the destruction of liberty and the eradication of freedom.

I am not ashamed to say I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and I exercise my freedoms vigorously and often. It doesn't make me popular but it does make me less willing to say little in hopes that whatever I say can be mended. I don't want my views to be mended and if I step on a few toes, so be it. The owners of those toes have just as much right to speak out and have their say as I do, resulting in discussions and debates that may well change things -- and may change them for the better.

To anyone who believes that staying silent and saying little ever did any good, I say, "Look around you, take stock and tell me if what you see is what you really want," and then decide if you want to remain silent and let the vast and very vocal minority map the course of your life and choose your path for you or if you'd rather have a say in how things are run and what happens. It's not easy to speak up and speak out, and change does not always come quickly, but when you speak up and speak out it is guaranteed that your words and your voice will reach others who feel the same way and maybe, just maybe get them to speak up and speak out and join their voices to yours until things change. Let's face it. The silent majority is just that -- silent.

It's the old parable: Breaking a stick is child's play, but breaking a bundle of sticks is not. It's your choice.