Today's one of those times. Most often, silence is bigger than the truth. Sometimes it seems people care more about avoiding a possible conflict, or prevent looking argumentative than standing for truth. That's a pet peeve of mine. Pretty sure the fact that I generally speak up, is a pet peeve for others. But sometimes it just isn't in me to stay silent. The truth about my community; standing up for a friend or family member; the truth in politics; and especially Biblical truths are imperative to me. I just don't understand silence on any of those issues. Why would we let a proven inaccuracy go unchallenged, or uncorrected? The falsehood thereby continues to spread and gain momentum - sometimes even changing the way we live our lives. Why would we not politely correct someone who misquotes, or defend one who is misquoted? Why allow someone to look foolish, or like they support something that they actually oppose. Why would we allow someone to believe anything that is inaccurate? Why would we let a friend's reputation or even a politician's reputation be destroyed when we can present facts that show differently? Why do we do that? I just don't get it. In a day and age where it has never been easier to defend someone, why do we remain silent?
One of the things I was asked at a recent job interview was: "What do you do if you are maligned, or someone you know is right, but has been said to be wrong?"
Oh goodness! Why did I get that question? But the truth is that is right up my alley - it is at the depth of my being. It is how I try to live my life; or at the very least how I really want to live it. And I don't think I even live that way "out of principle". I do it simply because I don't know how to do it any other way. I want to be defended, so I defend. No, it certainly doesn't always work that way.
This is how I answered the question at my interview. "When I worked at a restaurant, I had heard someone got food poisoning there. I felt that that was an inaccurate accusation and I couldn't let it pass. I had to defend what I knew to be true. Now there is always a possibility, that someone could have gotten sick there, but could they be certain the poisoning came from there? Were they positive that is what the illness was? What I know about the restaurant from working there is that it is the cleanest restaurant I have ever seen. What I know about this business is that the health department told them they were the cleanest restaurant in the area.
I could defend the reputation of the restaurant without being argumentative. I could present to the accuser, what I knew for myself without being offensive. I could defend the restaurant without saying the accusation was wrong. That is what I chose to do and hope I will always make that choice."
More often than not I choose to defend. Hopefully, I always do it politely and respectfully. Probably not, but I do try. I do not let inaccuracies stand. But I mostly feel alone in my efforts. When I am attacked, misquoted or misunderstood, I have never felt defended, supported, restored or avenged of the inaccuracies. Never. Even when I have prayed for God to expose the truth. Mostly the untruths just stand. That is difficult to understand sometimes. And I will admit, sometimes I wonder why I have not been defended by others. So be it. But I am not talking about defending myself here. Most will say we are not to defend ourselves. And I am not arguing that point. I am talking in this post about defending others and/or standing for truth.
Do we have a Biblical precedent to follow regarding speaking up for truth? Of course we do. Obviously we are advised in Eph 4:15 regarding Biblical doctrine to speak the truth in love. But maybe even that is off point.
I often think about when Mary, mother of Jesus, who at the wedding told Jesus they had run out of wine. She was hoping He would fix the situation even if it meant revealing who He was. This is a bit different than what I am talking about in this post, as well. But still this incident always comes to my mind in situations where I feel left out on a limb, by myself, with no one defending me. Jesus didn't defend Mary. He corrected her. Outside of timing, I suppose it was also because Jesus thought her request was for the wrong reason. Sometimes that is the way it must be; sometimes maybe it is just best to leave things unsaid, for the well-being of another person. I am not talking about those times. My other pet peeve is when someone has no respect for appropriate silence - especially again when it comes to protecting a loved one. But in the end, in this incident, Mary obeyed; then advised others by telling the servants to do whatever Jesus instructed; and in the end Jesus responded with His first public miracle. I just think there is a lesson there. There was action in Mary's obedience, but also in telling others to obey.
In another incident of apparent silence, we know Jesus stayed silent before the charges brought against Him until compelled to give an answer, but His response was only to state Who He is. In Jesus' silence He revealed his authority. Sometimes that can be true for us, as well. But only when it is about God's power, not ours. And this example was for His own purpose. He did speak on behalf of others on the cross. "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."
What about another time that Jesus verbally spoke in defense of someone? Jesus publicly defended the woman at the well, saying "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone." Her accusers left one by one. I firmly believe this is how we are to respond, in whatever means we have available to us. This is also an example He left for us.
Of course, Jesus' whole life and purpose was about the defense of others. He is our Advocate with the Father. That always evokes strong emotion in me. But I am human and sometimes I would like earthly defense from my brothers and sisters, as well. ;-)
Ok enough of that; this isn't a Bible Study; just my random thoughts, so search for yourself and please feel free to comment if you have some thoughts regarding this. I am truly interested. Back to the subject at hand.
What about the fact, that "history belongs to those who write"? What are we going to do if we have read something we know is not true? Let inaccuracies stand? Our silence changes truth, not just for the moment but forever. Not just at the personal level, but at every level. Someone understands that - thus revisionist history; thus yellow journalism. If one wants to permanently change facts - write. In my opinion, if one wants truth to stand - write.
I got myself in trouble a while back correcting inaccuracies that were written on line. The lies were evident to those familiar with the circumstances, but for the countless others who weren't a part of the situation, it was impossible to know the truth. The more I corrected, the more the attacks grew. But should I have just let the lies stand and said nothing? Those written statements were not going to go away. People could read them for years. They would eventually come to be known as truth, because there was no effort to expose the inaccuracies. What if a relative, maybe a grandchild, read those lies years later? I would rather look foolish in print, than let lies remain about someone I know.
Apart from that, sometimes it is simply about offering support. Sometimes you know someone's character, or their purpose, even if you don't know the actual facts. Innocent until proven guilty, right? I think it is important to defend simply to encourage someone in the battle. You don't leave someone dying alone on the battlefield. You just don't do it. You come to their aid.
Books have been written with no accountability, saying whatever someone wants to say. Movies, "based on an actual story" or even labeled as "fiction" somehow become real in the public's mind. People don't often reason and think for themselves anymore; they just believe it as fact because "It was on TV". That's just plain dangerous to our society. The lies/inaccuracies, then stand and eventually somehow become "representative of the times" and therefore truth. Our history, our moral compass as a society is thereby incrementally changed. Our culture becomes known as something different than what it was and even actually still is.
"A lie repeated often enough, eventually becomes truth." - Joseph Stalin
Someone understands that today, too, because "spin" i.e. distortion, is prevalent in our society. It is how some do their politics now days. It is also how some do their church.
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
"The philosophers are wrong; it is not words that kill, it is silence." ~Elie Wiesel