Ireland is in the midst of all sorts of political upheaval as a result of ‘whistle blowing’ by two members of the Gardai.
I’ve given a lot of thought to the concept of whistle blowing over the years. Yes, I was a whistle blower once. I’ve no doubt that it probably had very negative implications for my career; it achieved nothing in ‘objective terms’ but I don’t regret it because I still feel that it was something that needed to be done ‘in the public interest.’
There were other times, though, that I didn’t blow the whistle and I am utterly ashamed that I didn’t as I suspect that I left other people in highly vulnerable situations or worse.
Reluctance to highlight obvious wrong doing seems to me to relate to three factors:
Doubt that anyone will believe, let alone, take action on the story.
Concern about the personal and career implications of being labelled a ‘whistle-blower.’
Cultural values, instilled from childhood, about the weakness or should I say ‘sub-humanity’ associated with being a ‘tell-tale’ or ‘an informer.’
Today, I can only wonder how many people share my personal shame for keeping silent as well as my absolute admiration for those who have the guts to pick up and keep blowing that whistle when it would be so much easier to just ‘keep the head down.’
But, easiest things aren’t always best!