“What good am I if I see but don’t say?/If I say but don’t do/If I look right through you/If I turn myself off/From the thunder in the sky/What good am I?”
“What good am I?” Bob Dylan
Whenever I wandered into writing or talking and pontificating about my ideas about my work, or on other issues that I was involved in, or just simply things that interested me, (sometimes they could be grand revolutionary ideas or amazing insights of cosmic dimensions), I was pulled back to earth and given the wise counsel, by my best friend, to back off and keep quiet. “Just do it” was the sound advice, “Leave the talking to others”. Generally I took the advice, but now and again I slipped off-piste. That’s what I am doing now. But it is not simply an indulgence. It has a purpose and is partly due to a sense of responsibility to others and to future generations. Sometimes the softly softly, woolly woolly, wobbly wobbly, approach, the “don’t upset or offend anyone” attitude is not the thing anymore and it’s time for speaking out and saying things as they are. There is a time when you shouldn’t rock the boat but that’s not when it is already titling at 45 degrees. There is a time to speak and a time to be quiet.
Once you decide to speak out there will be flak of course and worse. You will be called names and not nice ones either. People who you thought were friends can begin to sound like enemies. Others will give you a deafy and you know they don’t like what you have said. Inevitably people will find your statements threaten their position. All too soon, you will begin to wish you had not blundered into the controversy in the first place.
The point of course is that not speaking out makes you culpable. It is the equivalent of turning a blind eye. But if you see over the mountain, it is your duty to tell. If you hear the injustice, it is your duty to call on the judge. If you sense an imminent disaster, it is your duty to warn. If you know the storm is coming, it is your duty to help get folks ready.
It is never, of course, as hard as it seems. Telling the truth is easier than lying and covering and recovering your lies. There is even a joy in knowing that you can talk about things that matter without bitterness or rancour and the fear of causing offence is often groundless. It is liberating to find that true friendships are deeper than opinions.
But knowing the times, is the hardest part and for me that has to mean looking beyond myself, seeking a higher wisdom and listening to a still small voice.