Never Be Silent; Don’t Forget

And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.

Someone asked me today why I was writing this blog. I’ve been asked over the years why I want to write about my experiences. As I read the Epilogue to Elie Wiesel’s book, Night, I can only share with you his words. If they resonate with you, then you understand why I write this blog.

…If we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.

And then I explain to him how naive we were, that the world did know and remained silent.

And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.

Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must–at that moment–become the center of the universe.

What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs.”

Taken from The Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech Delivered by Elie Wiesel in Oslo on December 10, 1986. For the entire speech, please click here:

4 thoughts on “Never Be Silent; Don’t Forget”

  1. Lisa,

    I would like to commend you for mustering up the courage to share what you have been wrestling with for many, many years. I can remember the venom you felt shortly after you left. You’ve come a long way.

    I want to publicly say that I agree with your feelings and can relate in a lot of ways. It is uncanny how many others have a similar story of feeling controlled, manipulated, and abused. I don’t think most of us realized the extent of what was going on at the time–hind sight is 20/20. I truly believe that it is only when you leave the type of environment you speak of that one can see the deception.

    Reading through your personal experiences reminded me of several negative experiences that I forgot about over the years. Most of my bad memories of MC Austin have been replaced by positive memories since, which I am thankful for. I still have nightmares about Edwin and Chris that stem from this thought that somehow I’ll get trapped into going to Louisiana against my will. I actually had a dream like that several weeks ago.

    My lasting opinion of Christian leaders has been tainted and I still view people of religious power with a jaded lens. Unfortunately, many leaders religious and not abuse their power in the name of something good; this is the deceptive part about such a thing. We all who have a similar story understand the abuse of people in power.

    Looking back at my experience at MC Austin, I can say that there were too, too many bad things that happened there. I do want to say that there were some positive things–some diamonds in the rough. I can say that because of MC Austin, the discipline and perseverance I developed in MC has made me the man I am today. I also made some friends that I can call on at any moment and know that they understand me and what I am going through.

    Keep writing, Lisa. I hope that someday you can post an apology letter from the leaders who have hurt you, and us all–that is the least they could do.


  2. Sean,
    There are MANY of us who have had these nightmares (and still have them) over the years. They seem to pop up at the strangest times…I wonder if I’ll be 60 and still having them?


  3. Lisa,
    “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented”. Well said. There is a pervasive teaching in the church that says, “never speak out, especially against your ‘authority’.” That is patently false. Thank you for not remaining silent- voices like yours bring about change.

    My stomach literally turns when I read about the spiritual and emotional abuse that was perpetrated upon you, and my heart breaks for you, and even more so for the people who haven’t found yet found healing. Any form of manipulation is foul and disgusting, especially when the Bible is used as a tool to manipulate and exert the totalitarian control you describe.

    Right now I am staff at a MC program. My experience has not been like yours, but keeping your story in mind helps me to be a better leader; authoritarian dictatorships are the “easy” way to lead- much simpler than actually discipling and serving.

    Thank you for speaking out. I believe that your words are not written in vain. I sign this with my full(well, informally full) name because now that you have spoken, I have a responsibility to speak.

    Sam Bernard

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