View Full Version : When to speak, when to remain silent

Joseph Svinth
21st February 2001, 12:04
When is one obligated to speak up on matters such as dojo politics or Internet flame wars, and when should one remain silent?

Before answering, recollect the following statement, which has been attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller, as stated in Franklin H. Littell's forward to *Exile in the Fatherland, Martin Niemoller's Letters from Moabit Prison* (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1986), p.viii, edited by Hubert G. Locke.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out -- because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out -- because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -- because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.

21st February 2001, 17:41
Hello Joe,
I will take a shot at this one as it is something I have been working with for quite a while now.

The obvious, safe answers are

1. When Asked - Holding your counsel until given leave to express it by the involved party is a quality I personally value, whether in myself or others around me.

2. When destruction or evil would result in your inaction. - Allowing an evil or injustice to occur and not attempting to stop it holds, to me, the same weight as perpetrating it yourself.

3. When you yourself would welcome the interference, advice or guidance if the roles were reversed. - If someone is having a flame war and both parties are getting their jollies from it, then it is wrong to interfere. It could even prove damaging, (ask police officers why they hate to get into mediation at domestic occurances. Many departments will even legislate them against it.)

At all times, respect and genuine caring for the parties well being should be the guide.

(As my father said to me, better to hold your advice then to give bad advice, always be sure before you speak)

Brian Vermeulen