I’m guilty of turning aside, afraid of offending, afraid of being wrong, afraid of rocking the boat. But recent events in America have me thinking about my silence and the excuses I have said to myself, or heard others say. I asked some wise folks, living and dead, what they had to say about justice, peace, and getting involved in the fray.

I’ll wait until it affects my family.

“The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity.”
Marcus Garvey


I’ll wait until it affects my bank account.

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.”
Bryan Stevenson


It will all work out eventually. Things get better.

“It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”
Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches


I have other things to focus on and worry about.

“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice…, the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt


What can I do about it?

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa


There’s so many people talking about it. What will my voice add?

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Martin Luther King Jr.


I’ll wait until it affects me.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.” – Jesus Christ


I don’t want to take a stand. It may offend people.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Martin Luther King Jr


This doesn’t involve me.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Martin Luther King Jr.


War and fighting and tribalism are just part of life.

“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.” Thomas Merton
Everyone has the right to his or her own opinion.

“Whoever exalts race…and divinizes [it] to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts and order of the world planned and created by God. He is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds.” – Pope Pius XI on Nazi Germany


Why don’t people just leave well enough alone? There wasn’t a problem.

“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.” Malcolm X


There’s nothing my voice can do to help.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”Barack Obama


Do you expect the President to be perfect?

Nearly all men can withstand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”Abraham Lincoln


I don’t feel comfortable getting involved.

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Elie Wiesel


People are making too big of a deal out of this.

“They are committing the greatest indignity human beings can inflict on one another: telling people who have suffered excruciating pain and loss that their pain and loss were illusions. (v)”
Elie Wiesel, Night


People are just who they are. They can’t change.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”  -Martin Luther King, Jr.
I don’t even know where to start.

“Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world.” A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Photo used by permission: Matt Cannon via Unsplash