"You have the right to remain silent..."

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From My Perspective

By Toni Walker

Anyone who has ever been arrested by police, or has seen a movie where someone is arrested, knows how this phrase ends. “…Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law.” I believe, wholeheartedly, that one should take heed of this warning when instructed by the police. But, the statement applies to life, as well.

From my perspective, the statement, and its reverse, should be one that all of us hold as a standard to remember when speaking. We do have the right to remain silent, and I am not just talking about when an officer of the law tells you to. We all have the ability to make a choice to remain silent. And sometimes, when things don’t directly affect us, it is best if we keep silent.

We have nicknamed our middle child (our oldest daughter) “informer,” because you best believe if anybody is doing anything they aren’t supposed to, she will let us know. I tell her all the time that “If it doesn’t concern you, then you don’t need to be talking about it.” She has the right to remain silent in those situations (although, sometimes I believe she truly does lack the capacity!)

Just like my daughter, sometimes, we as adults stick our nose where it doesn’t belong, and have a tendency to tell what we see to others, or to “offer our best advice.” I mean, really, does everyone need to know that Joe Blow painted his living room fluorescent pink? No, it doesn’t not concern us, unless we live with Joe Blow, and then, we would already know.

What about advice, surely that is ok, right? Well, yes and no. It is ok to offer a new mother advice and suggestions about raising children. It is not right, however, for us to assume that our idea, suggestion, or advice is the best, or only advice. She must take the all of the advice she receives and decipher what is best for her and her newborn. Give your advice, then shut the heck up.

As much as I believe there are definite times we should keep our mouths shut, there are times that I feel we must speak up. Again, I tell my daughter that if someone is trying to do harm to her, or if someone is physically being hurt, then she needs to come tell us. It is the same way for adults.

When we see someone being physically harmed, I feel we have a moral duty to speak out about that. When we see true injustices, we must fight them.

Notice I said true injustices. Society has gotten to where they throw around catch phrases like “injustice” like it is nothing. I’m sorry, but it is not an injustice that you cannot buy that newest iPhone or pair of shoes.

It is an injustice when families are going hungry because they can’t afford their basic needs, yet they “make too much” for assistance. (And I have a whole other story on assistance.) It is an injustice for a capable working person to be ridiculed because he is a little slower due to disability. We must stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves.

When I have the opportunity to watch television, and if I watch the news, I am taken aback by people who don’t know when to shut up. I mean, really? You are pitching a fit and needing a safe space because your candidate of choice was not elected as president?

But what is equally appalling to me is the people who keep their mouths shut when they see injustices; those who see the attacks, see the demeaning actions towards someone, and stay quiet. Which is worse: to stay quite when you know of wrongdoing, or blast every little detail of someone’s life?

I will let you decide in your own situations, but for now, I feel like I have said enough.

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