Silence is Acquiescence

Written by: Terry Link

Primary Source : Possibilitator, July 26, 2015.

In Studs Terkel’s last book, Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith, he’s once again collected many moving first person accounts from a wide range of people. They are all moving reflections well worth sitting with should you get a chance.Image result for studs terkelI was particularly taken the other morning by the words of Rabbi Robert Marx.

        Silence is not inaction. It is doing something: silence is acquiescence. When you acquiesce to injustice, you are contributing to it. The hardest thing in the world is to help people find the courage. In that process, finding it yourself is not always an easy task. You have to say that I’m willing to be inconvenienced, I’m willing to march in that parade, I’m willing to sign that petition. I am willing to go down to a prison and visit somebody who has been wrongfully imprisoned. I am willing to have rocks thrown at me, as has happened.(p.135)I recognize my own silence on many issues. My own fears arise of receiving, not rocks, but vitriol, from those who don’t see the world the way my experience has painted it. One of those current issues for which I have been too quiet is the realization that Black Lives Matter. Of course, I understand that intellectually. But the recent media coverage of almost daily examples of injustice and violence perpetrated on citizens, whose skin color makes them a target for abuse at so many levels has me distraught. I certainly can’t walk in the shoes of a person of color. But my empathy and recognition of injustice should have brought me out of my chair much sooner. The abuses are endemic and ongoing.

It seems to me now, that we folks who have benefited from the privilege of whiteness in this society must not be silent anymore. I understand better now the reason why Cascade Engineering has made a concerted effort to be an anti-racist company, without being forced by some new law to do so. I see why colleagues in our local peace community have come to focus increasingly on domestic peace and injustice issues, after so many years of looking overseas for human rights, demilitarization, and refugee safety.

It is not an ‘either/or’ choice, but rather a ‘both/and’ one. I suspect the creator of the poster below has made this more clear than I could.

Image result for black lives matter

Marian Wright Edelman, long time leader of the Children Defense Fund  makes the case as for ending our silence as good as anyone in her message Friday .
Marian Wright Edelman


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Terry Link
Terry Link is a retired MSU librarian, former founding director of the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, and co-founder and former chair of the American Library Association’s Task Force on the Environment. He recently served as associate editor for the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices(Gale/Cengage 2014). He has also served as executive director of a regional food bank and as a county commissioner. Currently he is president of Starting Now, LLC, a sustainability consulting firm, a Senior Fellow for the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves on numerous non-profit organization boards.
Terry Link

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