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If You're Not Involved In Children's Activism To Protect Your Reputation, Read This
How many children's lives is your reputation worth?
Whenever someone says they can’t get involved in children’s issues because they don’t want to be associated with objectionable people associated with those movements, what they are really saying is that they value their reputation more than children. There is a reputational cost to being associated with any political issue that has organized opposition. Those unwilling to associate with children’s movements aren’t willing to pay that reputational cost, even if it would mean purchasing the safety of children.
The question I’d ask those who value their reputation more than children is: How many children are you willing to allow to be harmed to protect your reputation? One? Ten? A hundred? It might sound harsh to frame it this way, but if you are a capable skilled individual, then your activism could probably protect many children. If your activism could make a difference in the lives of hundreds of children, then denying your activism means allowing that many children to be harmed. How many children are you willing to sacrifice on the altar of your reputation?
Framed this way, avoiding problematic associations isn’t a “noble” excuse. It’s child sacrifice. Those who stand on the sidelines are allowing children to be harmed for personal gain. The activists they find objectionable are actually nobler than them. Those activists are willing to pay the cost of social disapproval and becoming “controversial” figures to protect children. When people risk their lives and reputations to protect others, it is called bravery. When people run from conflict and allow others to be harmed for their own selfish gain, it is called cowardice. Activists are brave. Those who refuse to get involved are cowards.
Some might object that the activists they don’t want to associate with really are bad people. Let’s pretend they are. Is other people doing bad an excuse for you not to do good? Are you going to let those bad people cause you not to protect children? Do bad people control your behavior? The children your activism would help don’t care why people treat them well. They just need help. When they ask why so many didn’t stand up for them, do you think they will accept the excuse that others who stood up for them did some bad stuff also, so you did nothing?
Modern people like to think that if they had lived in the time of slavery they would have opposed it, but let’s look at the history: In 1859, abolitionist John Brown and his followers attempted to take over a US military arsenal to lead a slave revolt in what became known as the Harper’s Ferry raid.1 Seventeen died in the fighting.2 If today someone tried to break into a government building so they could steal guns and kill their political opponents, it would be called terrorism and an insurrection. Associating with the movement after that would mean associating with violent terrorists. If someone is afraid to associate with just modern causes merely because some activists engage in speech they disagree with, we know where they would have stood on slavery.
Someone who knows that children’s movements are correct, but doesn’t get involved to protect their reputation, is worse than the opposition. Those who advocate against children might be acting from ignorance. Someone who “supports” protecting children, but doesn’t get involved to protect their reputation knows the truth and is still allowing children to be harmed. There is a word for knowingly doing wrong: evil.
Martin Luther King famously said, “in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” When I think about what has impacted me most, it isn’t the opposition, but those who’ve said they were allies, yet did nothing when help was needed. If you care about children, act to protect them. If someone isn’t, their position is clear. Martin Luther King was right: “silence is betrayal.”
Related Article: If They Wanted To, They Would
Wikipedia contributors. “John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry.” Wikipedia, 4 Mar. 2023, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Brown%27s_raid_on_Harpers_Ferry.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Harpers Ferry Raid | Definition, Date, History, and Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 9 Jan. 2023, www.britannica.com/event/Harpers-Ferry-Raid.