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Won’t you be my whistleblower?

April 22nd, 2005 · 3 Comments

Sounds like Mister Rogers’ song: Won’t you be my neighbor?, doesn’t it?

Imagine Reverend Fred strolling into the studio, sitting to exchange his sneakers, adjusting his cardigan and asking his young audience in his consistent theme song:

Won’t you be my whistleblower?

Then he would stop and slow himself. Whistleblower? What is a whistleblower? Well, children, you can whistle between your lips like this…

Okay, I’m getting carried away…and I do like Mr. Rogers…Last week though I ended up at Joey deVilla’s story of whistleblowing from 2003 [via Liz Ditz] and what I read haunted me with its truth.

Joey is a musical guy but this story doesn’t have much to do with blowing air between the lips to make a sound. No, this story is a cautionary tale, a word of warning but also a story in which Joey is warned about the woman he is dating. It’s too good and detailed to try to summarize so go read What happened to me and the new girl (or, “The girl who cried Webmaster”)

The blog post last section contains this paragraph

It’s true. I posted a gushy entry about New Girl, someone saw it and came forward to tell me the truth. Maybe the Blogger or Moveable Type people should print up stickers and T-shirts that read BLOGS SAVE LIVES. I’d buy one.

Blogs may save lives. But in this case, I’d say it was not a blog itself but Whistleblower, a blog reader who had the courage to meet Joey and tell him the truth about New Girl. Whistleblower’s bravery saved Joey. I imagine that fiancee Wendy is also grateful!

When I wrote Won’t you be my whistleblower? I meant it. I hope that someone would dare to be bold enough as Joey’s Whistleblower and come tell me the truth if I was making a mistake in a relationship or life in general. If I am blind or ignorant or being misled, please help me. I might not like it. As Joey did, I might hope you are wrong. But I also hope I will be open and listen.


Whistleblowing, as it is used in Joey’s post, is crucial. I believe we should help each other and keep each other from making mistakes we will regret. Gossip is not good. There’s no point in talking about people behind their backs simply to talk about them or prop up our own sense of self-worth. But there is a point in breaking through deception and speaking truth, even if that means going one-on-one with someone else, possibly even in secret, to end cycles of abuse. Like the sign above, we need to caution each other when we are taking hazardous paths; in fact, one could argue we have a responsibility to be whistleblowers and point out the risks of choices and relationships.

Whistleblowing though to me has negative connotations as a word. It sounds like an angry referee. Or like a kid calling the cops on his siblings by tattling to mommy. The eerie image of Meryl Streep in Silkwood.

What Whistleblower did, I believe, is what we should all do to each other. It’s what friends are for. It’s what we do when we care about each other and live in community together. It’s being neighbors and sharing space.

So I’d rather sing along with Mr. Rogers and say: Won’t you be my neighbor?

Tags: journal

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Wendy // Apr 22, 2005 at 6:47 am

    I am grateful. For a hundred reasons. I did imagine, early in our relationship, the various implications of…stuff. But I’m done with that. Now I am just thankful that someone cared enough to make it stop before there was stuff, and that Joey is smart enough to have listened!

  • 2 Katherine // Apr 22, 2005 at 8:15 pm

    Reminds me of Pride & Prejudice – how people should have warned others about Mr. Wickham…to avoid such trouble as happened. Have you seen the movie? Our whole family enjoyed it recently – but it’s two DVDs worth – 5 hours (so we saw it in two segments). Most of it went over our kids’ heads, but they still enjoyed it.

  • 3 Joel Barciauskas // Apr 25, 2005 at 10:43 am

    This reminds me of an idea in both Catholic and Buddhist readings I have done regarding relationships. A common thread in the two books was that confrontation is an essential element of any real relationship. Without confrontation, you are not presenting yourself as anything, you are simply a “nobody.” We must remember to confront our friends, act as a point of reference and a guide, when we can. As has been stated already, that Whistleblower recognized this without even having a “real” relationship with deVilla makes the story that much more amazing.

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