Those who live in any free country where freedom of speech is tolerated and protected by law can have a hard time understanding when not to shoot off their mouths. It’s one of the gifts of wisdom that often only comes with time and age but the earlier we learn it, usually the better.
Choosing our battles wisely includes not ridiculing others whose beliefs we don’t agree with. Granted that can be hard to do when we see what is going on down the block from us or reported in the Media. Some religions, including some sectors of Christianity, have a long history of cruelty that needed or still need to turn around. Atheist and supremacist societies have worse leadership and we need to speak up before they come for us. But timing and manner are all important, so as not to turn a not-so-simple free speech statement into a slaughter where innocents are killed.
Some youth and more than a few children learn in their early years to remain silent because something very bad happened to them when they did speak up. This tragedy should not happen but we all know it will continue until the laws of a free country are enforced. Until those pretending not to hear and not to see do speak up. I’m not talking about ratting out your neighbors for watering their lawn in the middle of the day, parking trucks on the lawn, or dumpster divers. I mean far more serious stuff like family members being beaten and starved, including the family dog.
Getting Help for the Abused
We adults and teens need to speak up when we know something bad is going on. We need to report child abuse, animal abuse and abuse of the elderly, to mention a few situations. Penalties exist for making false, spiteful accusations, so we have to be pretty sure our facts are correct before grabbing the nearest safe phone. But personally, I’d rather report a case to LAPD, Animal Control, Adult Protective Services, or Child Protective Services and be wrong than let something wicked continue. And if I had to report it again because nothing got done, I would.
CPS is not known for listening to parents before taking a child away. So there are multiple repercussions if we are wrong, but the child’s immediate welfare comes first. (Follow-up by CPS is spotty, as most of us know or have read.)
Then, too, Emergency Room staff haven’t always heard of rare medical conditions like NF (neurofibromatosis) where a child can simply roll off a low daybed onto a carpeted floor and break a leg due to a bone tumor. So the staff may overreact when the child is brought in. But it’s not just health workers who have the responsibility. Teachers and clergy are also required by law to report suspected abuse. Sadly, some do not, preferring to deal with it in-house, if at all. A “not on my watch” attitude by administration can prevail.
If you need direction for getting help for known or suspected elder abuse in the Los Angeles area, go to Bet Tzedek.org. (Look under the Services tab and also enter “elder abuse” in the site Search field.) Elder abuse has been a silent, shocking epidemic that continues to grow because its victims are often hidden away. Most abuse is carried out by family members and caregivers. This, too, has to stop.
As much as we grieve for the victims of horrific violence, we cannot ridicule or lampoon others without expecting a backlash unprecedented in modern history. And surely that same government could have shown support for victims and families after recent multiple attacks on Jews in their country instead of ignoring those attacks? Where were the marchers in the streets then? Where were the world leaders protesting the sometimes point-blank shootings of children? Is there still no respect for the Jewish people? It would seem that anti-Semitism is alive and well.
Backlash may not come from the obvious source but there are others just waiting for any excuse to hijack the core beliefs of any society. We have such crazies right here at home. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors and ages, and they walk among us.
Just because we can say something doesn’t mean we should. But when we should, let’s get it right! Let’s not throw gasoline on the fires of hatred that will erupt again. Let’s display wisdom that too many will not live long enough to learn. And let’s speak up for all those who need our voice.