Silence Is Violence

I have served with many people from around the world. Through my time with AmeriCorps, I served with friends who came from big cities and small towns across the nation, from Alaska and Hawaii to Florida and Maine (even a dual-citizen from Germany); these individuals became my family for four of the past five years. They are black and white, Hispanic and Native American. They are Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, Christians, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccans, and self-proclaimed confused. I have friends and family that follow the tenants of Buddhism, the teachings of Mohammad and Jesus, and the new age beliefs of the free spirits.

My family comes from across the seas, stretching across the world, and from my own back yard. I have served beside them. Sat with them in conversation. Ate meals together. Cried with them. Danced together. Fought with one another. And listened to both their words and their silence. From them, I have learned to love and to live to the fullest.

A little over a week ago, I logged onto social media and noticed that one of my friends made the statement: “Silence is Violence.” His point was that when we remain silent, we are fueling and empowering those who seek to spread fear, lies, and hatred. Good men are those who take a stand for what they believe, especially when staying quiet is the safer option.

We have been too silent for too long. I have been too silent and it is time to stand with my brothers and sisters.

I started writing a post about a week ago that I had titled “American Terrorism” but I never finished it. I started writing it after I saw a video shared online where a man stood before his community and proposed the construction of a Mosque and community center. He was interrupted by a member of the crowd who proceeded to accuse him and all Muslims as terrorists. My heart sunk as the community members in the crowd clapped and cheered this man on, as he spread hatred and fear.

I never finished that post because later that evening, the mass shooting and act of terrorism made front page news as live coverage followed the tragedy in San Bernardino. We watched as a mother and father chose hatred and fear over love.

We have seen many tragic acts of terrorism over these past couple weeks. From Paris to Mali, Europe to the Middle East. Across Africa and onto our own shores here in the United States. By remaining voiceless, we allow the fear and hatred to spread farther than the reaches of their violence.

I put no stock in religion. By the word religion, I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of God. Holiness is in right action and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What God desires in in your thoughts and in your heart. And what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man – or not.
– the Hospitaler, from The Kingdom of God

Actions define us. When we choose love and forgiveness over hatred and fear, we receive it in turn.

Unfortunately, the world we live in is filled with hate and fear. We have political figures who are instigating hatred because they are afraid of something that they do not agree with. We have members of the media who turn a blind eye to terrorism committed by individuals who claim to be Christians because it doesn’t fit the narrative of the radicalized jihad. We have individuals who feel that the only way they will be heard is if they kill, maim, and shed blood through violence.

It doesn’t matter what their beliefs are or what faith they have chosen to follow. Anyone who uses violence and fear as a tool in the attempts to force their beliefs, opinions, or way of life onto those around them is a terrorist. Anyone who claims that their religion and/or beliefs have called them to take action and kill indiscriminately is a terrorist. Even if they have absolutely no connections to ‘organized’ terrorist organizations.

The simple fact is that there are people willing to kill here in our country. Individuals who threaten violence on others. There are men and women who have taken it upon themselves to stand out in front of mosques with guns and terrorize the families who wish to worship freely. There are individuals I know who have spoken of taking up arms against members of their own communities. This is the reality of ‘Christian’ terrorism.

I can go on: Anti-abortion activists who threaten medical personnel who provide care to those in need. These are the same people who shout and scream at innocent women who seek medical care, without knowing their personal stories and struggles. And this acceptance of verbal abuse shows people that it is okay to hate. And okay to use fear to push their agenda. And this leads to physical violence.

And those of us who do not speak up against these actions, we are part of the problem.

Someone once told me that bad men triumph when the good men do nothing. This is the time for us to take a stand. Not just against the members of ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Taliban, but against the hate speech of American citizens, the fear spread by the media, and the attempts to alienate a religion by Islamophobics around the world.

As a follower of Christ, I detest violence. Those who kill by the sword will die by the sword. Better to love unconditionally and learn to accept forgiveness into our hearts.

But we still must learn to fight the good fight. And the first step is to stop being silent.

Note: There is a difference (that I might get to in a later post) between using force to defend yourself and violence.


1 Comment »

  1. I loved this line “actions defines us.” Lovely read! Happy to connect! Do check out my writings too, will appreciate your reviews 😄

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