A public service announcement which you hear regularly in the New York City area is:
“If you see something, say something.”
If you see a suspicious package or an abandoned backpack or someone acting in a strange way, say something. Don’t just walk away. Call the police or alert the authorities. All of which makes sense, right? Bad things happen all the time. For twisted reasons someone thinks the way to make their point is through blowing up a bomb and killing innocent people. And, all of us being on guard and paying attention sees more than a handful of police officers. But here’s the rub. At its best “If you see something, say something.” helps to keep us safe. At its worst it amplifies our fear. It transforms all Muslims into terrorists and all black people into thugs and anyone who speaks a different language into a threat.
But what about this.
“If you see something, say something.” can work both ways.
I began making this list the last time I heard the public service announcement.
If you see kindness, say something.
If you see courage, say something.
If you see effort, say something.
If you see sharing, say something.
If you see compassion, say something.
If you see someone helping another, say something.
If you see public service which truly serves the public, say something.
If you see someone standing up for what is right or good, say something.
Maybe by seeing something and saying something it will not only keep us safe, but keep us safe in ways that are more important and, in the end, more powerful.