Silence is Violence?

You’ve heard it said, Silence is Violence.


But is it always?

Maybe some voices shout on different battlefields, but now are muffled by the clamors of the current war. Or no one ever paid much attention to their battle cries. It can be hard for some to redirect passion and energy to the conflict now raging as quickly as  signs/memes/chants demand.

-Some call for nursing home reform, as many of our most vulnerable citizens are taken advantage of and abused.
-Some attempt to stem the insatiable appetite of the dark underworld feeding on human trafficking.
-Some rescue women and children from domestic abuse situations and try to keep them safe.
-Some beg the Western world to understand that people groups in eastern Asia are being imprisoned and silenced and are disappearing at an alarming rate.
-Some urge us to be aware that Christians are being slaughtered for their faith in certain areas of Africa and the Middle East.
-Some (too few) decry not only the conditions on Native American reservations, but the reason indigenous peoples are on them in the first place.
-Some attempt to make the U.S. citizenry aware that the government has sold many of our rights to powerful corporations because a well-funded lobbyist carries more weight than Constitutional rights.
-Some demand changes in a system that allows drunk drivers to keep their licenses—until they kill someone.
-Some battle daily for the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, who’ve been tossed aside like human rubbish.

Some—many—of those battling the evils above are happy to join the battle against racism in all its ugly, God-dishonoring manifestations. They just may not want to forget their other wars, and therefore aren’t shouting loudly.

You’ve heard it said, “Stating ‘All Lives Matter’ to the particular life most under threat is an insult.”
Many would agree, because their own threatening situation is taking all their time, energy and grief. All they have to offer at the moment is silence.

-Many desperately search for a runaway teen or elderly, wandering parent.
-Many hold the hand of a loved one poised on the brink of eternity and don’t dare look away lest they miss any precious moment.
-Many do battle with an addiction that threatens to overwhelm them if they relax the fight for even a second.
-Many spend every waking moment trying to prevent the suicide of a friend or family member who has lost the will or ability to struggle with life any more.

Silence isn’t always violence. Let’s not boil the complexities of the “heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to”* into three words, and judge others by them.
Systemic racism is real and evil, and if it were the only evil in the world, we could all give it 100% of our attention 100% of the time. But it isn’t the only enemy, and people are battling on so many fronts.

Wars wage everywhere. Let’s fight the fights God set before us, praying for wisdom to turn from those engagements for a time, and join the crusade next to us if our fellow image-bearers appear to be losing their battle. But using three words to produce guilt in those exhausted from their own warfare only adds to an already overwhelming burden.


Painting: St. Francis Contemplating a Skull
Francisco de Zurbarán, Spanish, 1598–1664
Date: c.1635

* Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Act III Scene 1