"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do
nothing." Edmund Burke
you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of
If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that
you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
Bishop Desmond Tutu
"Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence
encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." Elie Wiesel
" “The opposite of love is not hate,
There may be times when we are powerless to
prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail
to protest." -
“I've been fighting my entire adult life for men and women
everywhere to be equal and to be different. But there is one
right I would not grant anyone. And that is the right to be
- Elie Wiesel
take sides is to effectively weigh in on the side of the stronger."
William Sloane Coffin
"The man who is passive in the face of injustice is as guilty
crime as the man who openly violates rules of justice. ... The man
who does not defend someone, or obstruct the injustice when he can,
is at fault as if he had abandoned hid parents or his friends or his
country." Cicero (44 BC)
"Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could
have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better,
the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has
made it possible for evil to triumph. Haile Selassie, Emperor of
"Well done is better than well said." Benjamin Franklin
"One must speak up in situations where silence can objectively be
taken to mean agreement with or sanction of evil. When one deals
with irrational persons, where argument is futile, a mere “I don’t
agree with you” is sufficient to negate any implication of moral
sanction. When one deals with better people, a full statement of
one’s views may be morally required. But in no case and in no
situation may one permit one’s own values to be attacked or
denounced, and keep silent." Ayn Rand
“Neutrality is positively harmful.” Miroslav Volf
"Silence becomes cowardice when
occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting
accordingly.” Mahatma Gandhi
ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but
the silence over that by the good people."
" Save us from
weak resignation. To the evils we deplore."
Verse from last stanza of hymn "God of Grace and God of Glory"
written in 1930 by Harry Fosdick and John Hughes.
afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion
against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the
world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
“Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law
flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close
our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too
frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow
against freedom and decency and justice.”
darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their
neutrality in times of moral crisis." Dante
“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out
the whole truth and acting accordingly.” Mathatma Gandhi
“Washing one’s hands of the conflict
between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the
powerful, not to be neutral ”
From Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics":
First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. [ A law too often
violated by humans.
"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people
who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about
it. Albert Einstein.
“Apathy adds up, in the long run, to cowardice.”
May American psychologist
who choose not to empathize enable real monsters, for without ever
committing an act of outright evil ourselves we collude with it through
are not to stand idle when your neighbor’s life is at stake.”
“The road to Auschwitz was built by
hate but paved with indifference.”
Ian Kershaw, British historian
Your activism should be involuntary right now, instead of
invisible." John Pavlovitz,
Christian Friend, I Hear Your Silence"
"Therefore, anyone who
knows what is right but fails to do it is guilty of sin."
James 4:17 (New Testament)
“We cannot suffer with the poor when we are unwilling to confront
those persons and systems that cause poverty. We cannot set the
captives free when we do not want to confront those who carry the
keys. We cannot profess our solidarity with those who are oppressed
when we are unwilling to confront the oppressor. Compassion without
confrontation fades quickly into fruitless sentimental
commiseration.” Henri Nouwen
"Opinions are cheap and easy and, ultimately, meaningless. Action is
what actually matters. What are you going to do about it? And when
are you going to do it? That's the challenge of this essay.
(Thoreau's "Resistance to Civil Government") Professor W.E.
Smith, Miami University of Ohio, talk at Chautauqua Institute, July
time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."
“The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a
decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our
time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and
conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of
Fulton J. Sheen
be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete
the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. ” The
"Silence is a complex matter. It can refer to awe before unutterable
holiness, but it can also refer to the coercion where some voices
are silenced in the interest of control by the dominant voices. It
is the latter silence that Walter Brueggemann explores, urging us to
speak up in situations of injustice." Rev. Walter Brueggemann.
“How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly
anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause?
Such a fine sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death
matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred
to action?” Sophia Magdalena Scholl (9 May 1921 – 22
February 1943) was a German student and anti-Nazi political [non-violent]activist.
She was convicted of high treason after having been found
distributing anti-war leaflets. She was executed by guillotine.
First they came...anti-Nazi German pastor Martin Niemöller
"First they came for the
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me."
Franciscan blessing found on a wall in Camp
Victor (Ocean Springs, MS)
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half
truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and
exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer
from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out
your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe
that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what
others claim cannot be done.
James 2: 14-17 (New Testament)
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to
have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?
15 Suppose a
brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.
16 If one of you
says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing
about their physical needs, what good is it?
17 In the same
way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Pity The Nation Lawrence Ferlinghetti 2007
Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose
sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the
bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by
Pity the nation that knows no other language but
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow
their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of
Sound of Silence
Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
"Fools", said I, "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
In the wells of silence
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets are written on the
And tenement halls"
And whispered in the sounds of silence
A Responsive Prayer for Justice Rebecca Sutton,
Program Coordinator of Global Women’s Exchange
Pray for those who are hungry.
Pray harder for those who will not feed them.
Pray for those who struggle each week to pay their bills.
Pray harder for the wealthy who do not care.
Pray for those who are homeless.
Pray harder for those who deny them shelter.
Pray for the sick and lonely.
Pray harder for those who will not give them comfort.
Pray for those who cry out for dignity.
Pray harder for those who will not liste
Pray for those oppressed by unjust wages.
Pray harder for those who exploit them.
Pray for those who bear the yoke of prejudice.
Pray harder for those who discriminate against them.
Pray for those whose basic needs are denied.
Pray harder for public officials who cater to the greedy and ignore
those bound unjustly.