December 7, 2023

Taking Sides in the Face of Tragedy

The moral imperative of engagement.

In times of great tragedy and moral turmoil, there has always been a peculiar strain of moral equivocation that can be as troubling as the events themselves. It’s a sentiment that suggests an evasion of responsibility, an attempt to retreat to the comfort of neutrality and a refusal to acknowledge the stark realities of history. Today, as we grapple with the weight of our past, it is essential to address a rather disturbing inclination: the reluctance to take sides during moments of profound human suffering.

History bears witness to the grievous consequences of those who chose to stand on the sidelines when confronted with profound injustices. During the era of slavery in the United States, there were those who argued for “neutrality,” claiming that they wished to remain uninvolved in the moral and political conflicts of their time. Such neutrality, however, was tantamount to complicity in the perpetuation of a system built upon the brutal oppression and dehumanization of an entire race. To remain neutral was to side with the oppressors.

Similarly, the Holocaust stands as a stark reminder of the cost of neutrality in the face of evil. In Nazi-occupied Europe, millions of innocent lives were systematically extinguished while the world watched, and some chose to remain silent. A refusal to take sides, even in the face of such grotesque and undeniable horrors, was nothing short of a moral failing.

In the context of Irish history, particularly during the Troubles, some chose to maintain an apathetic stance. The conflict in Northern Ireland was characterized by violence, political turmoil and religious tensions, and some chose to simply wash their hands of the matter. But in doing so, they overlooked the suffering of individuals on both sides of the conflict, perpetuating a cycle of violence by refusing to engage with the complex realities on the ground.

In all these cases, the inclination to avoid taking sides is often rooted in a desire to escape discomfort or controversy. It may be tempting to think that neutrality represents a higher moral ground, but it ultimately falls short of the moral courage that these historical moments demanded. It is not enough to merely bear witness to tragedy; one must actively engage with it.

Tragic events and moments of moral crisis call for us to take a stand, to speak out against injustice and to support those who are suffering. This does not mean blindly choosing a side without consideration for the complexities of the situation, but it does mean that we must not be passive observers. We must be willing to confront the difficult questions and grapple with the harsh realities that confront us.

It is crucial to acknowledge that we continue to face numerous challenges that demand our engagement and advocacy. The refusal to take sides persists as a troubling inclination, especially in a world marked by divisive politics, social inequality and human rights abuses.

Consider, for instance, the ongoing global refugee crisis. Millions of people are fleeing their homes due to conflicts, persecution and economic hardship. They seek refuge in foreign lands, often facing hostility and indifference. Some argue that they should be left to their own devices, that they are not our concern. But this is an inadequate response. When we fail to take a side in favor of helping these vulnerable individuals, we perpetuate their suffering and the callousness of our own hearts.

Moreover, within our societies, we confront issues like racial discrimination and systemic inequality. To say, “I don’t want to take sides,” is to disregard the pain and struggle of marginalized communities. When we turn a blind eye to these problems, we perpetuate the injustices they face and effectively side with the status quo. Inaction in such instances is a passive endorsement of inequality.

The refusal to take sides is not solely a matter of political ideology or personal comfort; it is a question of moral responsibility. It is an evasion of our duty to stand up for what is right and to confront the wrongs that plague our world. To shy away from taking sides is to betray the principles of justice and compassion that ought to guide our actions.

This is not a call for unthinking partisanship or a rush to judgment in every complex issue. It is an appeal for thoughtful and informed engagement. To take a side does not require one to abandon reason, critical thinking or a nuanced understanding of the situation at hand. It means recognizing that, when confronted with moral dilemmas, we should not retreat to the hollow sanctuary of neutrality.

We must consider the enduring lesson of history: that inaction and neutrality can have devastating consequences. When we abstain from taking sides, we relinquish the power to affect positive change. The moral arc of the universe does not bend toward justice on its own; it requires our active participation.

In conclusion, the reluctance to take sides during tragic events is a failure of moral courage and a betrayal of our responsibility to make the world a better place. Whether in the context of historical atrocities or contemporary challenges, neutrality is often a thinly veiled excuse for inaction. It is a choice to look the other way and ignore the suffering of others. History has shown us the consequences of such indifference, and we must learn from those lessons.

As George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We must remember the past, not just as a matter of historical knowledge but as a guide for our moral compass. When faced with tragedy and injustice, we must have the courage to take a side, to speak out and to stand up for what is right. To do otherwise is to perpetuate the very injustices we should be working to eradicate.


Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Please join us in prayer for our nation — that righteous leaders would rise and prevail and we would be united as Americans. Pray also for the protection of our Military Patriots, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Please lift up your Patriot team and our mission to support and defend our Republic's Founding Principle of Liberty, that the fires of freedom would be ignited in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2024 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.