Silence is compliance.

Shifra M.
Shifra M.
Jun 6 · 5 min read
Photo by Maria Krisanova on Unsplash

We are all so different and yet we are so much the same. Blood flows through my veins as it does yours, our hearts beat to the same rhythm. We each know fear and love and pain and joy. We each have dreams and goals and hopes for a better tomorrow. We all want to live out our lives in happiness and health and peace and love. What unites us is so much stronger than anything that could ever divide us.

And yet so many, choose to remain silent.

Did you know that silence speaks? In the absence of words, so much more is proclaimed to the world in volumes higher than the decibels we know. Silence speaks volumes. Silence, by definition, says I am choosing to ignore this. Silence in a way, says, I agree.

Inaction is in essence a deliberate action. I am choosing to not stand up. I am choosing to not act. I am choosing to ignore this situation and remain silent. I am an accomplice to this crime.

Yes. Take responsibility, because it belongs to you. You are just as responsible for your inaction as you are for your actions. You are just as responsible for your silence as you are for your proclamations.

For every time a child was lost and passerby chose to look the other way, to wonder but move on, to “assume” everything was fine because it was more comfortable to assume so, disaster could have struck. And that disaster would have been said passerby's fault. Indirectly, but all the same.

What is stopping us from speaking up?

Why if we are all so similar, do do we absolve ourselves from caring?

I believe most inaction is not malicious. Nine out of ten times someone does not respond because they subconsciously convince themselves not to get involved.


Depending on the situation, there could be a real fear factor involved.

I vividly remember the time I walked to the mall as a teenager. I went with one friend and we were pretending to be brave as we walked up the staircase from the street level. The area was a little sketchy, but during the day was considered fine. The stairs were in a weird spot, in a quiet area of the street where there were not many passerby. They were enclosed with glass and led to the most remote part of the mall. We chose those stairs because they were the closest, but we were uneasy going through them.

As soon as we entered, I tasted fear. The sounds of a woman crying quietly, echoed through the empty staircase. There was a man pushing her around and speaking roughly with her as she pleaded with him and cried. I had never seen such a scene, and was absolutely terrified. We scurried past when we reached them, averting our eyes and acting as though we had seen and heard nothing. We just wanted to make it out alive, to not be the next victim.

As soon as we were through, I wanted to call the police. But there were other people nearby enough, we reasoned, surely this must be a couple of friends just having a fight. And anyways, what exactly would I tell the police? And what if the man realized it was me who called and wanted retaliation?

We were young and afraid, so we did nothing. We didn’t tell anyone and I have carried it in my heart ever since. I have never taken those stairs again.

Sometimes, we don’t act because we are afraid for ourselves. We rationalize and excuse ourselves and walk away.

What if we just added one thought to the mix while we rationalize?

What if that were my sister, my son, my mother, my friend. What if it were me?

Would I want someone to notice and care?

And if our rationalizations were indeed correct and that lost looking girl is just waiting patiently while her Mom finishes in the store- would it do much harm to stop and find out?

We should be concerned. We should stop. We should make sure others are okay because who knows when it will be you who needs that?

A man I know recently passed away after having a medical emergency in his car and hitting a median on the highway. Circling the internet in the aftermath was a video an onlooker took of the scene. One woman approached the car that was slowly lighting on fire, knocked on the window to ask if he was okay. He didn’t answer and she walked away. Had someone been able to break his window and reach him before his car went up in flames, maybe he could have been saved. But no one tried. Instead they watched and filmed it. And thus a good man perished leaving behind a wife, six children and a community bereft.

How horribly sad.

The next week, my husband went out and bought a tool that can break car windows. It cost $10 for two. Why should such a terrible thing have to happen when a solution can be $5. If one car watching had cared, if one onlooker had this tool on them, this kind man could have been saved.

My friend grew up in an abusive home. The one thing that causes her more pain than any other, is the amount of people who knew and said nothing, did nothing, to save them from the abuse that was going on for years.

I recently read an article about grocery store abuse. How the workers at the register and some people in line were harassing a young mom for using food stamps. The article wrote about stopping judgement and always being kind.

Where were all those strong emotions when the woman was in dire need of an ally?

Perhaps, speaking up in that instance would have made it worse, I wasn’t there to tell you. But many times, standing up to the bully can do so much more for the victim than even stopping the abuse can. True, you may not be able to stop the nasty words flying, but at least temper them with the knowledge that another person sees me, cares for what I am going through, and is trying to make it better. At least let them know they are not all alone.

How could it be that a whole line of onlookers stood by and allowed the abuse to take place? They are just as guilty as the abuser. It may sound harsh, but it is true.

Stand up!

We need to speak up. We need to care. We need to take action both preventative and in the moment. We need to stop listening to our rationalizations and start listening to our gut.

We need to take responsibility for our inaction.

Because silence, is compliance.

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Shifra M.

Written by

Shifra M.

Writing just because I love to, and hoping that someone, somewhere, somehow, will be touched by it and love it too.

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