The proliferation of the internet has resulted in a substantial increase in worldwide accountability. Big industries can’t get away with sweatshop labor as easily as before. Tyrannical dictators are being tracked down. Famines are being addressed. We’re watching now. And we’re empowering the masses. I’m grateful for this increasing phenomenon.
However, this dynamic also intimidates a lot of people out of speaking up. They feel like someone has said it better already or that they may say the wrong thing and then be humiliated online.
All of these aspects of modern life can influence people to keep quiet. “I am sure someone is already addressing this problem. What could I possibly have to offer?” Or, “If I say the wrong thing, I may get in trouble.”
But the worst fear people face is that of responsibility. If you speak up, we expect you to act.
Martin Luther King said it best when he said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Carmen De Monteflores, a Puerto Rican author/psychotherapist said, “Oppression can only survive through silence”. This is especially true in areas where people are taught from birth that they are to keep silent, no matter what. That rule of silence has kept their people powerless and oppressed for decades.
Our friends at Invisible Children have broken that habit of silence on a level that is nothing short of profound. They liberated thousands of youth across the world and got them in the habit of speaking up for what they believe in. I believe wholeheartedly that IC’s contribution to breaking the silence is just as powerful (if not more) as what they’re doing to apprehend Joseph Kony.
Do your homework, educate yourself and speak up. Don’t let “oppression survive through silence”. As a caring human being, you have a responsibility, and an opportunity (don’t forget that) to be a changemaker. You have that kind of power. It’s your choice to use it, or not. Either way, you’re making a choice.
And just like what we’re witnessing with IC, there is power in numbers. But it’s important to remember, each one of the youth that make up this revolutionary campaign had a moment where they questioned themselves but ultimately made the decision to speak up. That’s how movements begin.
I’d rather try to help and fail than fail to try at all. If nothing else, I’ll learn something that will help me be more effective the next time.