Submitted for Contest #45 in response to: Write a story about inaction.... view prompt


Write a story about inaction

“I just don’t get it”,  Billy said to his father,  “I didn’t do it,  I didn’t do anything wrong!”

“Well, it is like this,  it doesn’t matter if you KNOW there is a weak spot in your chicken wire and then you are surprised when a fox gets in and kills two chickens making you almost as guilty as the fox!”

If you KNOW there are kids in your group that are shoplifting and you remain in the group and passively don’t report it,  you were present when it was happening!”  “Your behavior is considered acceptance by some!”  “That is how you become just as guilty as they are!”  “That is why you got in this trouble!”  

“But I didn’t shoplift!”  Billy cries!  “I didn’t DO anything wrong!”  “Aren’t you listening Dad?”

“Well, that is the small thing your Mother and I are happy about, but you knew and you stayed and remained silent, your inaction, your acceptance of wrong behavior, that is a thing to be unhappy about!”

“Go look up these words,  use the dictionary or Google them...try to apply what you read to our talk!”  


“You had options that you didn’t exercise.  Walk away, leave the group,  try to convince the group it is wrong or finally and most drastically,  report them to someone who will take action.”   “Tell me or your Mother, or a teacher or the shopkeeper!”

“Billy, as you grow into adulthood, you will see and hear things,  you will know or feel that they are just not quite right and often things that are very wrong.”   “That is when you decide to try to be part of the solution and not become part of the problem!”  

Inactivity becomes nonintervention which can become neglect or even negligence, disregard and finally apathy.

Whole segments of our society have tried to do their civic duty by going to the ballot box to vote for the candidate who they think or hope  will stop the apathy, who can bring light and fairness, honor and justice back into our government but the problem is,  our choices,  the candidates who step up to fight for us have visions and ideals as they begin,  but as time goes on, they give away tiny bits of themselves and their vision to get up the next step of the ladder to getting elected.   By the time they get elected,  they have given away too much, their vision has become obscured and they have gone from being part of the solution to being part of the problem.  They have given away their ideals to get the backing of money and power groups.  How is a citizen supposed to choose between two candidates who are already owned by some hidden power groups.  That is when apathy appears,  we give up and can only hope for the best.

“Billy, it  probably seems to you like I have gotten way off subject,  that I am now rambling on about something that has nothing to do with you or shoplifting but I want you to see, that along the way from childhood to teens and adulthood, we are asked to make choices,  how you choose to participate will have an effect on the way you live your life.”

Billy’s father rubs his temples and tries to think of words to say,  concepts to stress, explanations that will let his son see ahead.  It is true,  life and living day to day is a big compromise,  we give and we get but there are or should be, things we will hold fast to, things we can’t abide or let stand and yet most of us feel things are out of our hands.  We are helpless to affect change.  We are apathetic!


Maybe Billy’s father has jumped too far ahead for Billy to get the connection at this stage in his life but lessons learned early,  in the home,  about honor and decency live on in the mind as we develop.   Something held Billy back from participating in behavior he felt wrong and yet the group acceptance was so important it kept him part of the whole.  Maybe Billy’s silence had an effect on others in the group who recognized the wrong but needed someone else to join them in walking away.   We will never be certain in this case what might have happened but it is good to think about individual behavior and how it can bind a group together in good or bad deeds or dispell a darkness that needs light see ahead more clearly.

As I write this I can attest to being guilty of inaction.   I know as sure as one can be that if I stand up today and declare my political beliefs, half of my friends will be gone or our friendships changed dramatically.  I value the friendships more than big declarations that carry no weight.   I am nothing and I can do nothing to affect the “big” picture.  There are issues I will not compromise about  but neither will I force them on you.  It is a very sticky wicket….how to have standards and ideals and watch those more verbal or willing to risk,  trample them into the ground.  When do I finally stand up and yell “ENOUGH” louder than my opponent?    When do I become a protestor and when do I become a mob?   When does inaction become so unbearable that it creates an out of control protestor or beyond to someone who creates civil unrest?

I have no answer for this today.  I sit on the fence wringing my hands and wondering what this world will become!  What kind of world my sons and grandchildren or the generations ahead will live in,  I wonder if Billy got the message?  I wonder if Billy’s father found himself in a place where he had to throw down his own gauntlet,  an issue so personal to himself he could be inactive no longer.  

Yes, I wonder!

Inaction ~~~~protest~~~~mob~~~~civil unrest~~~~???????

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Raven Quill
21:09 Jun 17, 2020

Overall a good story, but I feel like it could have been a little less on the nose. I would also try to maybe be more clear on your perspective in the second half, who are you? How do you know about Billy? Are you speaking as the writer? Also more dialogue from Billy would have made it a little less monotonous. Either way, this a good show of your perspective :)


P. Jean
21:33 Jun 17, 2020

Thank you for your time and expertise....monotonous is a new description of my writing. I will go back and review!


Raven Quill
21:39 Jun 17, 2020

The monotony was mostly just during the first half, when your goal was to make it engaging, you certainly did so. Glad to help at all though :D


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply