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“Our tragedy isn’t the brutality of evil people, but rather the silence of good folks”

How many times have we heard of horrible things happening in a person’s life, only to hear that they have been living under the oppressive burden of denial for years. Or how often have we heard of a family who has suffered from abuse, or a tragic loss, only to find out that they still have been living like it never happened? Sometimes this can even happen with whole communities of people who have endured hardship, misfortune, or calamity. And it breaks my heart.

In my own family, I remember confiding to my father that my mother would beat me. Rather than acknowledge the great wrong that had been done to me and seek to bring a process of healing about, he dismissed me. “You probably deserved it,” he said, and then proceeded to go out about his daily business as if he never found out about the maltreatment that was going on right under his own roof! Rather than growing up in a home that felt safe and loving, I grew up in a house that felt stiflingly dishonest, damaging and hurtful.

So much of the problem of my mother’s abuse could have been stopped if my father had been willing to acknowledge and admit that there was a problem. Martin Luther King Jr. once said with conviction: “The greatest tragedy is not the brutality of the evil people, but rather the silence of the good people.”

Where do children learn about bullying, if not in their own families? Where do they learn to hurtle insults or heap abuse on one another if not from within their own households? Too often, children grow up being made to feel like they are less than human, and they bring all that sadness and confusion with them into their adult lives. And sometimes the victims become the perpetrators. There is so much pain and anger and sadness in some people’s hearts that they end up bringing it into school, into the playground, into their future relationships, into their whole lives.

The only way to even begin to bring healing and wholeness is to acknowledge that something tragic has happened. Good people should not—indeed, cannot!—look the other way or cover their ears. They must act on the knowledge they have been given and they must respond in loving good deeds.

It takes a great deal of braveness and honesty to overcome the shame of being a victim of abuse, misuse, or neglect. But candor and frankness, the capacity to confess with blunt truthfulness what is going on in our lives is the first step out of the muck and the yuck and into the light. Although it can be at times terrifying, naked transparency and an audacious refusal to deny anything allows us to begin to heal, to be transformed and restored.

And so today, if you can, share with someone you can trust what weighs heavy on your heart. Or if someone has entrusted you with their story, find ways to bless and encourage them. Only we can make the world a better place. And it has to start now.

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 27th, 2012 at 1:50 pm and is filed under Clients, Friends and Colleagues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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