“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
There are so many ways that one can take and interpret this quote. Today I read this as being aware of the importance of knowing that even when you don’t say something, your behaviors might reflect what it is that you are thinking. You are responsible for those behaviors in the same vein as if you had spoken the words.
The key difference here is that when you speak the words you can invite dialogue about the meaning behind them. When people are left to interpret behaviors there is no dialogue unless you have created a place where that kind of conversation is safe and encouraged.
It is far easier to reconcile the words you have spoken than it is the behaviors you have demonstrated. Words have specific meaning, and while misunderstanding is very common, at least there is a platform to create a conversation and come to a common understanding. Not so with your actions, those are interpreted through the filters by which others see the world and dialogue and understanding is not nearly as easy to come by.
So what does all this mean? Recognize the importance of your actions and know that even if those actions line up with the words that you have in you mind, that no one else is hearing those words. They will interpret them through the lens through which they view the world. You are as responsible for those actions, and how they are interpreted, as the words you speak…