This site totally sucks when viewed on a smartphone.
I'll fix this Real Soon Now.
Following are words of wisdom I have striven to live by, even since I was a little child. Imagine my surprise when I first read them in a book at the age of 36.
When I was asked to make this address I wondered what I had to say to you boys who are graduating. And I think I have one thing to say. If you wish to be useful, never take a course that will silence you. Refuse to learn anything that implies collusion, whether it be a clerkship or a curacy, a legal fee or a post in a university. Retain the power of speech no matter what other power you may lose. If you can take this course, and in so far as you take it, you will bless this country. In so far as you depart from this course, you become dampers, mutes, and hooded executioners.
As a practical matter, a mere failure to speak out upon occassions where no statement is asked or expect from you, and when the utterance of an uncalled for suspicion is odious, will often hold you to a concurrence in palpable iniquity. Try to raise a voice that will be heard from here to Albany and watch what comes forward to shut off the sound. It is not a German sergeant, nor a Russian officer of the precinct. It is a note from a friend of your father's, offering you a place at his office. This is your warning from the secret police. Why, if you any of young gentleman have a mind to make himself heard a mile off, you must make a bonfire of your reputations, and a close enemy of most men who would wish you well.
I have seen ten years of young men who rush out into the world with their messages, and when they find how deaf the world is, they think they must save their strength and wait. They believe that after a while they will be able to get up on some little eminence from which they can make themselves heard. "In a few years," reasons one of them, "I shall have gained a standing, and then I shall use my powers for good." Next year comes and with it a strange discovery. The man has lost his horizon of thought, his ambition has evaporated; he has nothing to say. I give you this one rule of conduct. Do what you will, but speak out always. Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared, be in doubt, but don't be gagged. The time of trial is always. Now is the appointed time.
John J. Chapman
Commencement Address to the Graduating Class of Hobart College, 1900
It has not always been to my advantage to speak out - far from it, many times I have sufferred as a result.
And there have been many times when I have chosen silence when I knew the right course would be to speak.
There have been difficult times in my life when I saw injustice and was unable to express myself eloquently so that those who happened to hear me did not take me seriously. But rather than learn to stay quiet, I have done my best to speak better, so that my words should have more weight to them.
I urge you to do the same.
I found these words on page 44 of the print edition of The ClueTrain Manifesto. It's a fascinating read and I recommend it highly - and it is a must read for any business person who wishes for their business to prosper in the Internet age.