Monday, March 15, 2010

The Guilt of Silence

"Though no one transcribed the speech, Dickinson's [John Dickinson] extensive notes would survive. He knew how unpopular he had become, Dickinson began. He knew that by standing firm, as a matter of principle, he was almost certainly ending his career. 'My conduct this day, I expect, will give the finishing blow to my once great...and now too diminished popularity...But thinking as I do on the subject of debate, silence would be guilt.'"
David McCullough, John Adams (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), 126.
John Dickinson chose the unpopular route in the Continental Congressional debate. With strong support from nearly everyone - including the people they represented - the delegates were pushing full steam towards declaring their independence. Dickinson firmly believed that they should take a different route - and stood by his conviction. In the face of what appeared to be certain political death, he chose to speak for what he believed in. Silence, or not speaking up on his beliefs, was guilt. The death of his career was worth the ability to speak his mind.

This is a difficult principle to learn. How often do we choose to remain silent and not express our will or beliefs simply to save face? How firm are we in our beliefs...willing to risk our jobs, careers, and public standing? Despite the unpopularity of his stance, Dickinson was well remembered for taking it and speaking well on what he believed in. The fallout would have been far worse had he simply stayed silent. As we proceed forward we must stand firmly in our convictions and trust that even if history proves us wrong - we will at least avoid the guilt of not speaking up at all.


Anonymous said...

Good dispatch and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you as your information.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for my bad english. Thank you so much for your good post. Your post helped me in my college assignment, If you can provide me more details please email me.