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No excuse for silence
Back when I was in my first year of college, I remember hanging around some guys who talked about African Americans, other minorities, and civil rights in general, in very negative ways. While I didn't join in the conversations, I did very little to confront their bigotry. I certainly didn't agree with them, but I was too timid to speak up. What I vividly remember is the bad feeling I had inside from my silence.
Years later, I was giving a talk to a large class of high school students about my religion, Christian Science. As I explained some of the concepts, the students — most of them from evangelical Christian churches — became rude and hostile toward me. The teacher had invited me because he wanted his class to appreciate the diversity of religious expression. However, during my talk he looked very uncomfortable, and just silently shrank back into a corner of the room. Remembering my own failure to stick up for what was right when people were expressing prejudice, I understood how peer pressure could make some people in that room clam up when they probably knew they should have been defending my right to express my views.
Having grown up in a small town in Massachusetts, I can remember feeling so safe in my white-bread, Protestant world, not realizing how unwittingly insensitive I was to the suffering that others were going through because of the color of their skin or their religious practice. I remember as a kid feeling that anything outside my own culture was not only alien and strange, but could even be a threat to me.
Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.
About the author
Phil Davis teaches and practices Christian Science healing in the Chicago area.
We shall overcome
with contributions from Margaret Wylie, Donald A. Wesley, Jean Lewis, Carol Bonderud, Maria Giacco, Julie Walson
ITEMS of INTEREST
with contributions from Judy Carman, Ashley Hink, Joe Woodard
WORLDWIDE CRISIS: PRAYERS NEEDED
ESCAPED CHILD SLAVE FRANCIS BOK
By Warren Bolon
DOORWAY TO FREEDOM
IN DEFIANCE OF UNJUST LAWS
NOT DEFINED BY RACE
By Philip Green
By Marilyn Jones
Freedom: A continuing journey
By Rosalie E. Dunbar
No excuse for silence
By Phil Davis
Spiritual treatment ends toothache
Eileen Hahn Rees
'A change in human belief'
Jürgen Vogt with contributions from Ken Girard