“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the aftermath of the recent allegations against Marian Rivera which she chose to ignore, many are quick to condemn her silence as being tantamount to admission of guilt. But those of us who understand Marian’s decision see the wisdom behind it. Should Marian have chosen to clear her name, it will become an unending case of “she said, they said” and goodness knows where that could end up in. But what makes this situation sad is that Marian was left to fend for herself when there were other personalities who have witnessed the incident from the front row and could have stepped up to tell what really happened. But as we all know nobody did, and we can only surmise as to the reasons for their silence and respect their personal choices.
But life indeed is a great teacher. I told myself I wasn’t going to walk away from this issue without having learned anything from it. I put myself in the shoes of those who witnessed and chose to keep quiet and asked, “What would I have I done if I were in that situation?” Would I say “it’s not my issue” or “it’s none of my business?” Would I say “they are both my friends so I will choose to stay neutral?” Would I listen to pressures from up and down, from within and without, or would I choose to protect myself and my career? What would I have done if I were called upon to speak the truth?
Some people may think it’s not such a big deal but to those who do, it is a moral dilemma. Choosing to do what’s right becomes a dilemma when you do not know what to do, when there are conflicting emotions and forces trying to control your mind and heart and suddenly you find yourself in the crosshair of public opinion. I tried to apply the situation to my own circumstances and experienced the same conflicts within me. I tried to find an answer to that dilemma but came up empty handed which did not surprise me because human wisdom, even at its best, is useless where moral standards are concerned. So I turned to the only supreme authority for ethics, morality and integrity – the word of God. I revisited the ninth commandment which says: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” Exodus 20:16
Bearing false witness is lying against someone to gain advantage over them. It involves telling falsehood, selective truths or half-truths with the intent to deceive. It seems like a quick and easy way out of embarrassment or guilt, but sooner or later the lies will catch up with the person and liars do end up hurting not just their relationships but also themselves. From childhood we have all been taught that lying to get something or get out of something is wrong. It develops in us bad habits that will ultimately destroy our character. We lose the joy of living because we live in fear of being found out, we lie some more to cover up previous lies and we end up getting caught in our own web of deceitfulness. In the end it will affect even our ability to trust ourselves and others.
But my eyes were opened to another side to the ninth commandment. We are not only warned against bearing false witness, we are also told to bear TRUE witness. If you hear something being said about someone and you know it’s not true but you don’t come to their defense based on what you know to be true, that is also bearing false witness against the person. If you know the truth and you don’t tell the truth, that is tantamount to validating the falsehood without saying anything. Failing to speak up when it’s the right time to speak up is compromising the truth. Tolerance of evil is the same as cooperating with evil. Looking the other way when you could do something to correct a wrong can destroy the foundation of any relationship and one day, you will look back and find that there is nobody there for you.
I am not writing this to judge those involved in the issue against Marian Rivera. I always believe that each one of us is accountable for our actions and the choices we make in life. I am writing this for my sake and yours if you choose to learn from it. So now I know the answer to that moral dilemma. If and when I should find myself in a situation where I am called upon to bear true witness, this is what I’m going to do:
- · I will seriously THINK about the consequences of my silence on the accused person’s honor, relationships, reputation, credibility and future.
- · I will try to FEEL what the accused person feels inside and understand what she’s going through.
- · I will PRAY for godly wisdom and a good conscience to guide my actions.
- · Then I will DO what is right as the word of God tells me to do.
In the end, I will not be judged by how many friends I get to keep, by how well my career is doing, by other peoples’ opinions regarding my actions or by how solidly I can justify the choices I make. But I will be judged by my obedience to God’s word and to this simple soul who wrote down these thoughts, that is all that really matters.