Amongst the many positive points about Martin Luther King, Jr., is the fact that he never backed down. Regardless of how difficult a challenge may have been, or the consequences to himself, he always stood up for what he believed was right. Enduring everything from physical abuse to taunts, suspicion about his motives to incarceration, he took to heart one of his most famous quotes: "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."*
As anyone who was familiar with, or has read extensively about, Rev. King knows, he used words like "friends" and "brothers" to cover everybody. Whether on a global, national, community, or personal level, everyone counted.
Rev. King knew from both history and his own era how destructive silence can be. The Civil Rights Movement would have never begun, nor would anything have been accomplished, if everyone had remained silent. Further back in history, perhaps the Holocaust could have been prevented had one person or more than one person spoken up and said "Human beings are being harmed-- this is Wrong."
Many have learned from Rev. King that true courage is standing and speaking when it is unpopular, when it is met with resistance, when there are consequences. In the past and the present, why have individuals elected to remain silent? Silence can be due to apathy, fear, or personal gain. Many remain silent because they do not wish to become involved, fear the consequences, or see no point in speaking if they themselves would not benefit.
On both large and small scales, opportunities to stand, speak, and do the right thing consistently present themselves. True injustice does not only affect those who are wronged-- it affects everyone. Rev. King's quote should leave us all with something to think about-- as it is always the right time to do the right thing.