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  • Writer's pictureDora Nudelman

To Speak or Not to Speak, That Is the Question

Speaking out against popular opinion is not always an easy feat. But it’s not that speaking out is in and of itself the difficult part; I mean, I would think that most of us have pretty strong opinions that I am sure we would all be happy to share with anyone who is willing to listen. The difficult part is in the perceived consequences that may come of doing so.

You see, there could very well be real time consequences that people might face for speaking their truth, whether it’s losing friends, losing their job, or even losing their reputation, which many have spent years and years building. And so, is it really fair to judge those who are afraid to speak their truth if we don’t really know or understand what those decisions might personally cost them?

When people have a lot to lose, sometimes they feel that being silent is the better and safer path. After all, if you have to put food on the table and pay your mortgage, risking your job over your opinion might not seem like the most prudent thing to do. Contrarily, staying silent might feel like you are selling your soul. And so, as you can see, this is a very complex subject to navigate indeed.

So what’s the solution?

Well, first let me say that it’s a sad time in history when people even feel the need to decide between expressing their personal truth and keeping their paycheck, etc. But even so, in times like these, we desperately need honest voices, especially those who are in positions that can bring even more credibility and transparency to the questions at hand. We need those who know the hidden truths to come forward, not only in the name of justice, but also for the sake of humanity as a whole. But how can we ask those people to do these things when they simply have so much on the line? How can we be mad at them when, if put in the same position, we don’t really know if we wouldn’t do the exact same thing? Whether we want to admit it or not, self-preservation is at the core of every decision most people make throughout their lifetime. And, while that might seem selfish on the surface of things, a lot of the time it comes from a deep sense of love, empathy, and feeling of responsibility.

So, then, how do we balance between self-preservation and the betterment of humanity? What do we do when we want to speak up but we are just too afraid of the potential consequences?

The bottom line is that each of us will have to make our decisions based on our own personal value systems. If we don’t, we will be setting ourselves up for misery down the road. None of our decisions should be made out of fear or guilt or shame. And every decision must be made with a clear conscience and the decision to make that choice correct.

At the end of the day, each of us will have to ask ourselves, which choice (one way or the other) will ultimately help us sleep better at night? Yet, this is not about judging ourselves as being “right” or “wrong” or “good” or “bad.” It is simply a decision that each of us will have to make based on a conscious assessment and choice that we feel is best and right for ourselves in that very moment. And so, if you decide that feeding your family is more important than speaking up against an injustice that you might have witnessed, then in that moment, you have to make that choice okay too.

What we have to learn to do is to trust that there is a bigger picture at play and that somehow we fit into that picture in our own unique way and in our own unique time. Maybe today is not the right day for you to speak your truth. Maybe right now is not your time to put forth your contribution to that bigger picture. Maybe today is simply about you taking care of yourself and those you love and ensuring that you are all okay so that one day you will be in a better position to make a difference. Moreover, perhaps you can figure out a more subtle way to make a difference now. The point is, you have options, and it all comes down to what stirs your soul. Nothing about this is passive, because when you make conscious decisions, you know that you are acting as the creator of your own destiny, rather than being a bystander or a victim.

But each of us will have to make those decisions for ourselves, and each of us will have to make the benefit/consequence assessment to decide on what we want to do, if there is a potential cost in doing it, whether or not we are willing to potentially pay that price, and whether or not we believe that all will turn out well regardless of our choice.

I would say, though, that if you can afford to speak up, then please do so. Speak up for all those who cannot be so vocal at this time. Speak up on behalf of those who want to speak too but don’t have the luxury of doing so in this moment. And if you do have the luxury but you yourself are afraid of what others might think of you, decide on whether or not that is a legitimate concern, or if it is merely an ego fear that is driving your decision. Because those who truly love and care for you, they will understand you. And those who are in your life just superficially, well, at least you will know it.

These are not times to be on the fence. Rather, these are times to make a choice, to be able to live with that choice in the moment, and to make that choice perfectly okay just as it is right now. And while your decisions might change over time, as can your circumstances, at least you will know that in each moment you are, in fact, choosing consciously, honestly, and with intention.

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