I’ve been silent about things before hoping that they would just get better on their own, that the person or organization would just grow up and learn to do better or someone else would handle it, but I finally have realized that it doesn’t work like that. As long as a person can get away with something, normally they will continue getting away with it unless they are confronted. Even after being confronted, if their comforts and pleasures are not eliminated, they normally will continue participating in the same behavior.
Whether it is the family member that continually molests loved ones, the clergy member that keeps falling into illicit affairs, the fast food restaurant that keeps chocking their food products with more and more chemicals and genetically modified crops, or the NBA owner who consistently discriminates, denigrates, and disrespects his players, coaches and tenants, our silence empowers them. Our silence basically contributes to their success.
Initially, I became really angry with the NBA, both the players and the administration for being so silent for so long. Yet, who am I to judge when I too, have been guilty of being indifferent and happily ignorant in an attempt to protect myself.
If you only focus on the leaked tape, you miss the bigger picture. Donald Sterling has been very clear about who he is and how he feels. There’s plenty of evidence to prove that. The greater question that we should all be asking ourselves on a personal and public level is why have so many people remained so vague and indifferent for so long? People within the NBA and associated with the game keep saying, they are not surprised by Sterling’s comments and more and more dirt keeps being uncovered about Donald Sterling. It is this “after the fact” information that bothers me the most. Things normally don’t get better with time and silence. Things normally only improve when there is confrontation, a fall-out of some sort, and swift action takes place.
The leaked tape is just icing on a very pernicious and bitter cake. A lot of ingredients went into that cake’s batter, probably none more potent than indifference. As Elie Wiesel, holocaust survivor and author, said during his speech before Congress and former President, Bill Clinton, in 1999: Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony, one does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it. Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor.
Donald Sterling has benefited long enough from the NBA’s indifference but he is not the only one benefiting from other’s indifference. A lot of people, organizations, churches, institutions, and industries have benefited from the fact that they know when people have to choose between possibly losing some of their own comfort and convenience or standing up and confronting an issue, they normally choose to remain silent and do nothing.
So on behalf of Donald Sterling and all the others that have benefited from our silence and indifference, let’s eliminate this option. Let’s force them to find another way to increase their bank accounts, meet their payrolls, and maintain their lifestyles. We’ve given them a free ride long enough.