“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Dear Engaged Bystander: When I was looking for quotes for the NSVRC publication, “Engaging Bystanders in Sexual Violence Prevention” I kept coming upon quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. I was looking for statements, by famous people, that would reverberate for the reader on many levels. I wanted quotes that could begin to shake us out of apathy or complacency and inject some urgency for action. I found quote after quote by MLK and what was remarkable was that I had so many to choose from. 

To recognize and celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. on this national holiday, I wanted to share these quotes again with you. These are the ones that I chose for the publication:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is 
‘What are you doing for others?’”
“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.”
Unfortunately, I did not find relevant quotes from other nationally recognized leaders in the United States that carried the same passion for speaking about “things that matter.” In the movement to stop sexual violence we have spoken for years about “breaking” or “shattering” the silence surrounding sexual abuse. I feel that our struggle has shifted because there are news features, television drama, movies, and others that have stopped the silence. The real struggle today is to learn how to talk about a subject that no one wants to even think about. 
But when we look at the words of Martin Luther King Jr. we begin to realize that we still don’t talk about the impact of our silence on our friends.  I know from stories of survivors that the silence of those that we love that can hurt the most.  Conversely, I also know from stories that some acknowledgement from a friend or a sibling or a close relative can make all of the difference in the world. 
So in memory of Martin Luther King Jr. – say something to a friend that is meaningful to them or to you. Acknowledge a hard situation. Laugh together about what you wish you had been able to say. Begin that conversation about your concerns for someone you love. But make a commitment to say something to someone you care about. 
It is a perfect birthday gift to a man who spoke out for the freedom of so many Americans.