Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When Good Men Do Nothing

My friend Jen posted a link to an opinion written in the Oklahoma State University's student newspaper, the Daily O'Collegian.  In it, the author discusses an assignment to find a place where cultures interact and observe, making a research report later on.  Michael Bradley, the author was floored by the amount of intolerance shown to those not appearing as members of the dominant ideology and who were subsequently subjected to racist and hateful remarks.  I read this and found it disheartening. However, it's not because racism, sexism and religious discrimination exist in the world, it's because we feel we have no voice to stop it.  Bradley's opening comment is "This is no call for political action."  Really? Why not?

I am reminded of Edmund Burke's words: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." We need to educate ourselves on the concept of speaking the hell up.  Perhaps the author might have said something to the thoughtless speakers, to address their words and actions.  Something as simple as "Your words and actions are unacceptable. Have you no compassion nor manners?" might help. This addresses the action and doesn't call anyone names, but still hopefully makes people ashamed of their own stupidity.

When people feel entitled to oppress others, they often do so without hesitation.  When it's a sure bet that they will be called to account for their behavior, those words die and maybe someday the attitude will die with them.  It's not that I enjoy shaming others, but our society (as we have seen exemplified in Arizona) needs to tone down it's hateful rhetoric and racism.  And by "tone down" I mean that our behaviors, words and actions need to be reassessed and changed.  If you and I don't say something when people are so blatantly out of line, why should they not step out?

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more, very well said! Also, I loved reading about your trip home for Christmas. I also grew up in a small town and often feel the same way, both enjoying my time there and being ready to leave.