Yesterday I saw a tweet from a campaigner on a social issue that said ‘Silence is complicity’. I recognised the passionate sentiment. I felt the fierce anger that not everyone has joined in on your personal quest to change the world. I know the despair that others don’t have the urgency that you have and the frustration that much of what passes for inaction in our world is at least apathy, if not complicity.
However, I would hope a social campaigner had a little more love and compassion about the challenges of speaking up. These are not ideal times. For many watching, your passionate quest is beyond their personal capacity which is devoted almost entirely to survival. Is someone’s focus on their own needs first complicity? Yes, there may never be ideal times to tackle Monsters at the Gates, but each person must choose their own cause and actions. Purpose, engagement and sacrifice cannot be imposed. They demand agency.
We need too a recognition that if the obligation lies on everyone to speak up about everything all the time we lose the effectiveness of voice. Too many voices too often is not persuasion, it is chatter. I can add my voice, but will it drown out one more important and less well heard? Our partisan and angry world is an outcome of lots of voice and the ability for people to choose their own bubbles. The other importance of love and compassion in those advocating for change is to recognise that we achieve far more with engendering connection, engagement and enthusiasm than by fostering othering and guilt.
So much has passed this year that calls for change, that guilt is an easier response, especially for those with the love and compassion to notice. As my life returns slowly to a Covid normal, I look at the wider world and have all kinds of feelings of guilt. People are suffering unnecessarily. Can we do more? Yes. Should we do more now? Now that is a question that varies with time and circumstances. We should have the compassion to accept in ourselves and others that people will make the choices which make their best contributions to the world.
Nobody improved the world with guilt. For now, I will remain silent on that issue as with so many others. I will bide my time to make a mark. If that makes me complicit in a long list of evils, then that is how it must be. I will still hold out hope for change, love for others and keep a little compassion for myself.