The need to speak out
The full story of Jimmy Savile’s record of misbehaviour is the latest of numerous scandals where appalling neglect or abuse have been conducted for years by people in positions of trust, without exposure to the public. Mid Staffs and Rotherham especially come to mind. Each revelation has led to a national outcry, a public enquiry and a report ending with a declaration that the misconduct concerned ‘must never be allowed to happen again’.
It shouldn’t have been allowed to happen in the first place. The prime reason why these stains on our society were allowed to continue for so long was a failure by individuals who knew what was happening to speak out. It’s understandable that few people would choose to court unpopularity or risk losing their job by being known as a whistleblower, and some of us may even recall the shame of being called a ‘sneak’ at school. But there’s a balance to be struck, and there may be times when we need to expose hidden misconduct to prevent it spreading and affecting many others. It takes courage, but that’s better than ducking the issue and thinking afterwards “I should have done something about it at the time”.
In the Christian faith we follow someone who as a man was not afraid to speak his mind, or even take physical action, when he encountered injustice close at hand. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was Love personified, but when the need arose he could be very different from the ‘helpless babe’ lying in a manger whose birth into our world we celebrate at Christmas. He called Jewish religious leaders ‘a brood of vipers’ because they appeared outwardly to be men of great virtue but in fact endorsed widespread injustice. He even overturned the tables of the moneychangers when he found the temple courts, the most sacred space in Jerusalem, being desecrated as a public market.
Jesus paid for his courage with his life. Following his miraculous resurrection which Christians will celebrate next month at Easter, he is still very much alive and loving us today.
By Tony Kendall
The Church in the Woottons