Nov 18

A Time to Speak posted by Yuen Woh Voon on Nov 18, 2011

“There is a time everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: … a time to be silent and a time to speak…” Ecclesiastes 3:1,7

Most of us are aware that there are times when we are to be silent. Job’s friends sat down on the ground with Job for “seven days and seven nights” without speaking a word. This must have been difficult but the Bible explained that his friends saw that Job’s grief was “very great ( Job 2:13).” In the time of grief, we often appreciate our friends staying with us without them having to say anything. In these situations, it is rather difficult to have to say something.

Of course they are also many who lack the wisdom and keep saying the wrong things. We often describe them as having “foot in mouth” disease. The Foot in Mouth Award is awarded each year by the British Plain English Campaign for “a baffling comment by a public figure”. The 2006 award was won by supermodel Naomi Campbell who said, “I love England, especially the food. There’s nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta.”

Sometimes we have to remain silent, but on other occasions we have to speak up. Wisdom is needed in order to know when to speak and when to remain silent.

I have heard my secondary school principal, Mr David Boler, made the following quote several times throughout my sojourn through the mischief and school boys’ pranks of our teen years. Once after several obscene artworks were found in the boys’ toilets, he repeated this quote, “All that is needed for evil men to triumph is that good men say nothing.”

Mr Boler had reasoned that these “great works” of art would have taken hours to paint and could not have been done without some of the students having seen the perpetrators. In our school assembly later, he cautioned the students who had seen the crime to speak up and not to remain silent. Those who remain silent are actually encouraging the commitment of crimes.

We must speak up in order to push back the forces of evil. We must also speak up for social injustice, for civil liberties and so on. If we do not speak up, the evil goes on … and on… In recent times, many in our nation have been emboldened to speak up for such reasons.

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