Talk Is Still Cheap
It is very easy to give verbal support to a person or a cause. It is a way of saying , “You go, girl!” In most cases this is a very safe behavior and requires very little energy.
It is a bit more difficult to say, “You go, girl!” if the “girl” you are supporting is standing in front of a row of police, armed to the teeth, protesting something important. If, by saying “You go, girl!” you, too, could get arrested, you might think twice about opening your mouth.
Over the years many people have come to me, enthusiastic about my work, only to disappear when I am on the receiving end of some kind of attack or criticism. “I am there for you,” (but don’t ask me to take any specific action to back that up. ) I don’t like professional pushback episodes but it comes with the territory of taking a stand, being visible and holding a point of view that isn’t what people are used to. Just being successful garners resentment from those who can’t find a way to succeed on their own.
If you can’t actually stand with someone, in the street, during the protest, your support is just talk and talk is still cheap. Those of us who are familiar with the New Testament know that Jesus went to the garden with his three closest disciples and they fell asleep three times even though he had asked them to be with him in his prayers. The people in this world who change things are always going to generate backlash. Galileo was ex-communicated, Leonardo was arrested (as a teenager, no less) and countless others were left alone by people who had been their friends when the going got tough. It’s simply not enough to have good intentions.
“Support” without action isn’t support, it’s just talk. Support is visible, it is courageous, it is more than just promises.
If you take up a gauntlet, go into battle and then drop it and run away when you stand on the field and see your opponents coming towards you, there is a name for you, but I won’t write it here. If you hide in the woods until the battle blows over, you might get away with it, but the person who lead the charge would know you had disappeared at the crucial moment. And YOU would know, which is worse. You have to look yourself in the eye every day. You have to live with yourself. You have to ask yourself how much you valued the thing you were “supporting”.
Talk is still cheap. It gets cheaper every day. Be careful what you say, because if you state that you support something or someone, and you do not stand behind your claim with action when action is necessary, you weaken the thing you were claiming to support, you weaken your own word and you give up your integrity. And, in this world, folks, that is truly all we ever have.