Rich Dweck: "Speak up or stay silent at the coffee shop?"
5/13/2013- This afternoon I was in a coffee shop in Bethesda, Maryland. I was sitting and enjoying a wonderful cup of Joe and finishing one of my final papers for school when put in an awkward situation. A man started to yell at this homeless man through the window. He called him a nigger. When the homeless man walked in to the coffee shop to find out why the man was so belligerent, the man in the coffee shop started calling him a schizophrenic and so on. I was shocked at this mans comments to the homeless man. Do I say something? Do I wait until after the homeless man leaves? Do I just keep to myself as if nothing happened? As a part of two communities that have been and continue to be victims of persecution, I can only think about doing whats right. Being a Jew and a member of the LGBTQ community I know that I must stand up in the face of injustice. If I stand idly by while others are discriminated against or persecuted, am I saying that it's ok to discriminate. Should I sit and watch while someone calls someone a nigger and say nothing? Does not silence=acceptance? Furthermore, being someone who is studying psychology I know how insensitive it is to call someone a schizophrenic. This is a real mental illness that has a ton of stigma attached to it. Calling someone a schizophrenic only perpetuates this stigma and makes it harder for those with this illness to seek treatment because the shame attached. I know I should speak up, but what if this puts me in danger? It is hard not to think of the word kyke or fag when someone says nigger. We are taught to try and put ourselves in the shoes of others, but do we? Should we look at the risk vs. reward? What if this man had a gun? What if he was mentally ill and I am putting myself in harms way? When is it an imperative to speak up and when is it important to stay silent? I had to answer these hard questions today. Now, I leave you with the questions to find your own answers.