"In giving advice seek to help, not to please, your friend," Solon, first century Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet.
The bully on the playground intimidates and silences with fear those who would tattle. Executives blackmail underlings into submission. Cruel teachers scream and demean their students. Fear is a powerful motivator. Some have chosen to use it to their own ends. Can children be equipped with the knowledge to stand up to fear and speak out? Can young people overcome fear? It is strong; is it possible?
One of the tales within Chronicles of King Argoz, Prince Ultan and Princess Mayavividly portrays counselors who lack the bravery needed to speak the truth, and in their weakness they harm their kingdom. In The King and the Thief by Paolo Tiberi, a prince becomes a king. His advisers keep him in the castle and supply his lavish lifestyle. All of them are afraid to tell the prince that his people are suffering because of his actions. They are afraid to speak out against his decadent lifestyle. They are afraid to suggest lowering the taxes or providing healthcare to the people. His advisors allow fear to hinder their advising.
"His advisors reassured him with the words he wanted to hear."
Had the advisors stood up and proclaimed the truth, they may have become martyrs for their cause. Or not. They may have begun the King's enlightening process earlier, though. How much sooner could the King's revelation have happened had someone, anyone, stood up and spoke the truth? Similarly, our children need to know that speaking the truth is always a good idea. If a bully is threatening kids or treating some badly, a student needs to report that. Even if they are scared, they should know that it's the right thing to do. It could be that by exposing the bully, he will be the one fearful, fearful of being found out or punished. Adults need to be law-abiding and report wrongdoings in their companies to the proper authorities. Instead of being fearful of the personal consequences of telling, they should be mindful of the company-wide repercussions of someone's bad behavior. The same with children: should they be scared of getting a black eye more than they are worried about the safety of all the students? Should a student's care and concern for their classmates override the fear they have of a mean teacher? Yes, it should.
One musn't be afraid of the reactions of friends or others. If they are causing undue suffering and aren't realizing it, they must be told. If they are attempting blackmail, they should be stood up to. If they are trying to silence the truth in fear, the words should ring out louder than ever. The truth should always be told. Are children taught to speak out? In the case of tattling, do we allow children to tattle or are we worried about over exposure? Does a teacher want to know when someone sighed after telling the class to be quiet? Rules and procedures can be put in place for such things, but when children decide they are going to stand up and speak the truth, parents and teachers need to congratulate them and do due diligence on the information presented to them. Let's encourage a new generation to rise up and declare truth confidently.