When You See Something, Say Something

While traveling in the UK last summer and taking subways and trains in London and Scotland to various locations, I noticed a sign inside the train cars that caught my attention. 

The signs read, "If you see something, say something." 

The "fine print" of the sign stated that if you saw something illegal going on, suspicious behavior, or bullying of any kind, you should alert the authorities. 

Since then, I've seen those kinds of signs in all kinds of places.  I saw a version on the "El" train in Chicago, in various airports I've visited, and even in my son's middle school here in Texas. 

"If you see something, say something." 

Today, I have been thinking about that line a lot.  I thought about how many times in my life I've seen things happen around me that troubled me or that I knew were wrong, and I said nothing. 

I also thought about how many of us do the same thing regarding bullies and antagonistic people in public or online.  Far too often, we put our heads down and try to keep to ourselves, not wanting to get involved. 

Why do we do this?  

And further, why do people who profess to be leaders and public servants seem to do this regularly?  What keeps them from saying something when they see clearly that what they witness goes against all human decency?

This quote from Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick has been sitting in my notes for some time, waiting for an opportunity like this to share:   

But when a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he is already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his suspicions even from himself.  And much this way it was with me.  I  said nothing and tried to think nothing. 

I think this accurately describes where we are as a society right now---both in terms of our elected leaders and our own individual behavior. 

There are people in our society who are being bullied as we speak.  Some people are constantly being marginalized because of who they are.  There are people among us who live their entire lives feeling like they don't belong. 

For those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus, we must continue the work of Jesus the Christ by seeking and rescuing those who are lost---those who are on the outside looking in.  

To do otherwise is, simply put, not Christian.  

This means we must be bold enough to speak the truth in love when we see something wrong.  We are obligated as people who claim to follow Jesus to do what Jesus would do.  

But we must avoid using the tactics of those who peddle outrage and whose bullying behavior drives others to silence.  

The ancient church father Chrysotom once wrote: 

If we want to have boldness, we must clear away our anger so that no one can attribute our words to it. 

So when you see something, say something.  When you see that the world is not right, speak about it with boldness that is passionate but not bombastic.  Stick up for the targets of bullying, marginalizing, and "othering." 

God's shalom has always been God's desire for all Creation.  The peace of God is made all the more evident when those of us who say that we desire it speak about that desire, point to truth and beauty, and show love in the midst of hate.  

May it be so for you and me and for all of us.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all now and forever. Amen.  


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