Your responses to the first two posts continue to pour in. Bring ‘em on. I want to hear from you, but, more importantly, others need to hear from you, too. I’m not exactly sure what form that should take, but I welcome your suggestions. I’ve already contacted one health agency, and, despite a few obstacles, I’m in the process of providing some follow-up information to it.
If you’ve observed unusual levels of illness in your neighborhood or your family, or if you’ve noticed some things in the environment or around your home that don’t seem right, I encourage you to dig deeper.
Seek out answers.
Don’t stop with one official response, but cross-check it, ask for proof, and determine how that person knows what he or she knows.
But, before you write, research, or doing anything further, you might want to consider these reasons to stay quiet in the face of a wrong:
It’s uncomfortable. For you, for your family, for others who know you. People will worry that you’re going to call them out about their business associations or their choices. They’ll feel judged. Or worried that you’re going to unnecessarily involve them, which could cost them in money, time, or prestige. Maybe even a job. Social gatherings could get awkward. It’s best to allow things to stay as they are so that others don’t feel anxious when they see you coming around.
You might offend someone. People don’t always make the best choices. Sometimes they make wrong choices. Illegal choices. Money, politics, or long-standing friendships may have driven them to do what they did. So. when you call them out on it, they’ll act indignant. They’ll be offended. They’ll point the finger back at you. After all, how dare you criticize the choices they made? It’s better not to risk an offense to someone.
You will second-guess yourself. You won’t always know the right answer. There will be times of confusion and doubt. You might have to review the facts over and over, just to remind yourself that you’re seeing what you think you see. You’ll need to rely upon the wisdom of others who are willing to review the facts. You’ll have to call in favors for help in double-checking what you’ve observed. This is stressful and you will lose sleep over it. Avoid internal turmoil if at all possible.
Your family will be affected. Every cumulative minute, hour, day, week, or year that you’re on the phone digging for information, interviewing experts, or conducting research, is a minute, hour, day, week, or year that you’re not caring for your family. Or exercising to stay mentally and physically fit. Or attending to another job. You’ll miss out on opportunities to make more money … heck, sometimes any money. And money is important; it affects your family. They will be impacted by having less of it. And so will you. Best to avoid that.
Your plans might be interrupted. We all have a short-term plan—a plan for how we’re going to feed our family for the next few months, do our jobs, get to work. Some of us have a long-term plan: plans to finish school or get a different job. Get married. A few of us even have long-held future dreams. “I’ll write that book someday,” or “Someday I’ll travel to Hawaii.” Be forewarned: sometimes speaking up about wrong things will postpone any or all of those plans. Perhaps even derail them entirely. You could get sucked in when the problem you’re confronting is worse than you thought. Might be better to stay quiet.
Your motives will be questioned. This one is particularly galling, so stay quiet if it bothers you to have your motives questioned by people who hardly know you or don’t know you at all, especially when they’re so off the mark that it’s laughable.
You and others will question your sanity.
You might have to go further than you thought. A glaring wrong is usually just the tip of the iceberg. There’s more people involved than you think. The stakes are greater than you perceived. There’s deeper reasons for the wrongdoing. Those obstacles amount to more reasons not to confront the problem in the first place.
Okay, so there’s eight reasons. Reasons nine, ten, and eleven are for future blogs. They need some additional attention. They’ve been on my mind for a while.
As I wrote last week, I’m not satisfied with how things are in my hometown. Despite every objection to speaking up, I’m going to do it anyway. The knives will come out. Lives will and have been interrupted. But, my readers, every bone in my body says this to you:
Do it anyway.