I wonder how many children’s lives might be saved if we educators disclosed what we know to each other. —Roland Barth
Resilient people are often called upon by circumstances to act courageously, and it’s a challenge they are likely to accept, although sometimes reluctantly.
Last week on the eve of Donald Trump’s promised announcement regarding foreign hacking I posted two back-to-back tweets:
“Couldn’t sleep last night because of excitement about Trump telling us what only he knows about hacking. Hope I don’t have to wait.”
“Hope I don’t have to wait until tomorrow to find out what only Trump knows about hacking. Or forever. Can’t stand the excitement.”
Moments later a line from a a 1960s-era song ran through my head: “It begins when we are always afraid.”
I realized that in some part of my brain I was fearful of the kind of vicious attack suffered by others, even lowly sorts like myself, who dared criticize some aspect of the new political order.
Here are some of the lyrics from that song, “Stop, Hey What’s That Sound”:
“Paranoia strikes deep
into your life it will creep
it starts when you’re always afraid
step out of line the man come and take you away.”
We know who “the man” is. And we know who (and what) he has promised to take away.
And we have seen what has happened to those who dare criticize “the man” or his minions.
As the old saying goes, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.
But this isn’t a story about my courage, or my paranoia. I wasn’t acting courageously because I only thought about the risks after I posted the tweets.
It’s a story about the role that courage can play in our lives.
Each of us, many times a week, decides whether we will speak or act in the face of fear about known or unknown consequences.
Sometimes the consequences are real. The thing we fear may happen when we speak or act in accordance with our conscience.
It is also true that bad things do happen to people when we withhold “our truth” from others.
As Edmund Burke said more than two centuries ago: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
How do you decide if and when to speak and act?