Monday, December 14, 2015

Sometimes it is silence, not talk, which costs lives

A good article on the Index on Censorship site:

Talk does not cost lives: silence does.

It is surprising how often a what is first just a common practice comes to be treated as though it had the force of law or of a religious commandment - in the latter case often when there is absolutely no basis whatsoever for the practice or rule in the scriptures or doctrine of the religion concerned.

A quote from the article

"Societies often endanger lives by creating taboos, rather than letting citizens openly discuss stigmas and beliefs.

Remember the days when people would fear being judged for admitting they had cancer and would not mention it in public? Alastair Campbell does, and draws parallels to attitudes to mental illness today.

Such beliefs can lead to people failing to talk to doctors about symptoms because of embarrassment, and potentially leaving diagnosis too late.

These societal barriers are often out-of-date, sometimes stemming from archaic religious beliefs, or from traditions that have been left unchallenged. But still today an action that conflicts with expected behaviour can result in damage to an individual.

The Encyclopedia Britannica states: “Generally, the prohibition that is inherent in a taboo includes the idea that its breach or defiance will be followed by some kind of trouble to the offender, such as lack of success in hunting or fishing, sickness, miscarriage, or death.” Living in fear of breaching such a “rule” can leave people afraid to dispute or argue for a sensible alternative.

To challenge a famous phrase from a WWI poster, talk doesn’t cost lives, but not talking certainly can."

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