Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Collective action

"Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty." -Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Remaining silent has more consequences than people realize. It's easy to think that we are not individually responsible for things that go wrong, whether it relates to environmental issues, social turmoil, etc. However, we have a collective responsibility as human beings to stand up for what we believe in, instead of waiting for someone else to take the lead. This theme is echoed by a famous Holocaust-era quote by Martin Niemoller:

"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."

Take the bystander effect. Remaining silent can be just as detrimental as actually committing the action, because you are still allowing harm to occur.

You don't have to be the same as someone or something in order to support them. Not only because you would want them to do the same for you, but because it's the right thing.

Don't become trapped in a pattern of inactivity. Acknowledge your assets and understand that you are a part of something bigger than yourself.

And never think that your actions are insignificant. Every step is important, no matter how small. Everyone has something that they can contribute to the greater good. Instead of silently waiting for someone else to take the lead, why don't you go first? Instead of distancing yourself from the problems that concern you, be that one snowflake that acknowledges what is wrong and vows to do something about it. Your initiative will inspire others. Just as silence begets silence, speech begets speech. Find something worth talking about.

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