The Tyranny of Silence

When I was working on Bystander, I kept running across different quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. He would often express the same idea in subtle variations. Dr. King issued an indictment against the tyranny of silence, reminding us all of our responsibility to speak up. King believed in the common good. He had an abiding faith in his fellow man. If only we would stand up to be heard, then justice and democracy and human kindness would surely prevail over cruelty and prejudice.

Here’s a few of my favorite quotes from Dr. King:

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right.”

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

One comment

  1. Lilia Cagle says:

    Mr. Preller,
    Thanks for this book and for your insights into the importance of human kind to care of human kind. I am a new 6th grade teacher at an IB school in Florida (and part of starting a whole new middle school at that!) and am starting the year off with discussion and exploration of your book and the themes within. Any guidance you are willing to provide would be so appreciated, as I’ve never taught students at this level and want to do justice to starting the year off on a positive note concerning our learning community and how we conduct business respectfully from the very start. If ever you are in St. Petersburg, Florida, we’d love a visit from you!!! Thanks so much!

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