Don’t attend the rally and express no opinion about it

By staying out of the event and remaining silent, I don’t need to worry about my views in being in the public eye. I can continue with my research without the possibility of being tagged as an activist. However, is my inaction really as inactive as I think? Is inaction ethical in this case?

What about the values at risk here?

Respect for Persons
Beneficence
Justice
My Decision
Respect for persons:

Declining the invitation to the rally shows respect for the differing positions of all my informants. By not aligning myself with my primary research subjects, the village members, I am effectively distancing myself from them. Also, by not advocating for the most vulnerable group in this situation, I am not respecting their rights to autonomy and free choice in terms of how they use their land. I am not respecting my own value of reciprocity.

This choice does not respect my own autonomy as a researcher, because I do share the opinion that the indigenous communities should have the rights to manage their own lands. My research can be used to support this claim to land and it lack self-determination for me to deny this.

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Beneficence:
By distancing myself from the debate surrounding land rights, I may be able to bring more benefit to the community by advocating for them in subtle ways with government organizations, which would be less likely to communicate with me if I were considered an activist.

I may, however, decrease my effectiveness as a researcher by distancing myself from the community and behaving in a way that is incongruous with the support that I am commonly known to provide. Without the benefits of community access, I am less effective as a subtle advocate.

The lack of my presence at the rally does not cause harm, yet it may not provide benefits to the community either. It may provide benefits to the research project as a whole because we rely on government approval to conduct research in the country and overt activism may affect that approval.

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Justice:
Providing the verdict from the judge came down in favor of the indigenous communities, attending the event would support justice in both a very literal sense and also in terms of what I believe to be just. Justice, in this sense, is not upheld by my lack of participation.

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My Decision:
Well, this seems like a good possibility but I didn’t choose it. It just seemed too ethically unsettling for me to remain silent on such an important issue and I felt that my work really required me to take some kind of stance or I might be seen as strange in a personal sense. What kind of person ignores the most critical political issue of all their friends in the village? One that has little sense of the values of humility and reciprocity, that’s who. And that’s not me!

What would you do?

Attend the rally

By choosing to attend the rally, I stand firmly in solidarity with my friends and informants for a cause that I believe to be just. My presence makes me an advocate for indigenous land rights and this is a position that I am very comfortable with. But have ...

Defend this Choice!

Don’t attend the rally but express support for those who are going

Not attending the rally keeps the illusion of neutrality in one sense, even if I am honest and supportive with the community members that I’m working with. I run the risk of causing offense by declining the invitation to participate, but I am able to maintain my ‘outsider’ position ...

Defend this Choice!

Don’t attend the rally and express no opinion about it

By staying out of the event and remaining silent, I don’t need to worry about my views in being in the public eye. I can continue with my research without the possibility of being tagged as an activist. However, is my inaction really as inactive as I think? ...

Defend this Choice!

Publicly denounce the rally

By going on record and saying I don’t think this gathering is a good idea, I firmly place myself on one side of the debate. I surprise my friends who thought I shared their goal of promoting traditional land tenure but I effectively distance myself from activists and, in ...

Defend this Choice!

Posted in Fight for Rights in Sight

What do you think?

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