Is Say Nothing, Do Nothing the Right Choice?


say nothing, do nothing

Miss Meredith Sweetpea often runs across situations where there is an obvious problem or slight, yet nobody says anything. For example, I was standing in line at a sandwich shop when a gentleman walks in and approaches the counter to order his lunch. The woman in front of me did not step up to say she was next in line. The person behind the counter did nothing either. But I said, “Excuse me, but there is a line, and this lady is next.” The gentleman looked back and then realized there was a line and graciously took his place behind me, apologizing for his mistake.His error was an innocent one because the line in this particular sandwich shop was held about 4 feet back from the counter at a “Wait Here” sign.

But this particular situation got me to wondering is “say nothing, do nothing” the right choice?

There are several ways to look at situations to decide whether to speak up or not.

Is it life or death?

If there is a circumstance where someone could be injured or killed, it is always best to step up and say or do something. I once caught a toddler as he tumbled off the end of a dock into the murky waters of a marina. I stepped in when I saw the child careening towards the edge. But nobody else did or said anything even though they all saw the situation as clearly as I did. I jumped up and grabbed the boy by the back of his shirt just as he hit the water. If I hadn’t, would the boy have been sucked under the boats and drowned? I shudder to think of it.

What if your friend had too much to drink and was getting ready to drive home. Would you stop him, take away the keys and drive him home…or do or say nothing?

Do you need to stand up for your own rights?

As in the example with the sandwich shop, I had patiently followed the rules and waited in line. Whereas most people would write off the interloper and grumble about it silently, I stood up for my rights in that situation by politely, but firmly, stating that there was a line. Was I subject to embarrassment or humiliation? Possibly. But I chose to take the chance to speak up for myself. 99.9% of the time, it turns out for the best. By the way, the woman in front of me turned to thank me. She was in a hurry to pick up her kids and was already running late. I wondered why she didn’t speak up.

Can you improve someone else’s life?

If I see a situation where I can help, I step in to do something. Recently a woman was navigating an overloaded cart at BJ’s (and you know how big those carts are) while trying to push her elderly mother in a wheelchair. Dozens of people watched as she struggled to push the chair and lug the cart across the store and out into the parking lot. Once in the parking lot, the ground slanted downward and I could see a disaster in the making, not only for the two women, but for the cars parked there. Continue reading

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