It’s tempting to tell yourself that we don’t have a problem. That you don’t have to get involved. This doesn’t affect your community. It’s not actually that big of a deal.
Look at these numbers instead, a commenter whispers. But what about this other case or that one, they say. I’m not an activist, you think. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, I don’t want to make things political. Someone else can probably do a better job.
These are lies. All of them. And they are worse than just apathy or rationalization. As Marcus Aurelius reminded himself, we can commit injustices by doing nothing too. When we try to tell ourselves that this is not our fight, that this is not our problem, that someone else is more equipped to get involved than we are—that’s what we are doing. We are not just allowing injustice to continue, we are committing a new injustice by abandoning fellow citizens or fellow humans who are asking for our help. They need our capital, they need our bodies, they need our political pressure. That’s how change happens. That’s how things get done.
“One person’s disengagement is untenable unless bolstered by someone else’s commitment,” Pericles famously said. If you decide not to vote because voting seems so statistically insignificant, or you don’t speak out, if you let things pass because you would rather avoid conflict, that might make your life a little more peaceful, but the result is an incremental increase in the suffering of others. By refusing to demand a solution, you are contributing to the problem. By refusing to fight for that solution, you are asking others to carry your part of the load.
That’s not right. It’s not courageous. It’s not just. It’s not wise either.
We have to do this together. We have to see it as our fight. Because it is.