Why passivity is unacceptable
By Natalie Serafini, Opinions Editor
“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
If you and I disagree about something, I truly don’t mind. I mean, if we have a difference in beliefs, I don’t have a problem with the fact that we think differently. I can’t guarantee that I won’t think you’re a jerk-wad, but I appreciate when people are opinionated. Without conflicting opinions, society is in danger of stagnation. Instead, what I can’t stand in people is passivity.
I understand that most people don’t get as angry about everything as I do. I also get that I, like many others, am oblivious to many issues, that I don’t always make the right choices, and that I can’t possibly take on every global injustice. But I can try: I can try to be aware; I can try to care if I don’t already; and I can try to do something, however insignificant.
This is why passivity is so frustrating to me. If people are aware of and care about an issue, ignoring the problem demonstrates a lack of integrity. If they purposely avoid educating themselves, they are guilty of ignorance.
The excuses given are often that we “should agree to disagree” and “can’t constantly be fighting every battle.” It’s true that society will most likely never come to an agreement on every subject, and that one person taking on every injustice isn’t realistic. Nonetheless, there are too many people doing too little.
We don’t have to protest, and we don’t have to fight every battle. But many people don’t fight any battles. Never mind fighting a battle—fighting suggests getting off your ass and actually protesting or sacrificing something. How about supporting an issue? How about saying to yourself, “Hey! I don’t like sweatshops! I should find companies that don’t employ sweatshops, and support those companies.” It’s easy to vote with your dollar. People in the States are doing it in droves over Chick-fil-A’s blatant support of anti-gay agendas. To not do anything because it’s more convenient is inexcusable.
Agreeing to disagree is no position at all; it’s not even an attempt at neutrality in instances where people’s rights are being infringed upon. You cannot justify standing by when you could easily do something, no matter how seemingly insignificant. To shrug and say “We can’t fight every battle” or “Let’s agree to disagree” is to abdicate responsibility. If each of us only fights the battles that affect us, no one will ever have the power to make a difference.