The Cost of Silence
Updated: Oct 4, 2020
Silence speaks volumes.
Regardless of professional preferences or political affiliation, let us not remain silent. Let us engage in respectful debate, review sources, and act on a shared understanding of facts. Let us speak – and listen – with an open mind.
For our silence conveys acquiescence.
At work, at home, in your community; to remain silent is a form of vote.
History suggests the advances of oppression and tyranny lack the drama of thundering footsteps in the night. The advances simply bide their time and step forward to fill a silent void.
Oppression and tyranny gain firm footing when we choose to silence ourselves and when we choose to relax the standards of science and thoughtful debate.
Let us choose to debate respectfully.
Let us choose to listen.
“What do you think, my neighbor?” we must ask.
“And what are your sources?” we must demand.
Consider the information received with respect. Challenge sources with respect. But don’t remain silent.
At work, at home, in your community. Let’s start with respect. Respect for one another. Respect for sources. Respect for dialogue.
For in the quiet of night, oppression and tyranny claim ground when we forgive a lack of fact.
It starts with declarations of feelings and emotions, soon trumpeted as self-evident. Nothing more than an opinion, really. Yet, if embraced by silence, opinion stands with the stature of fact.
Such a transition starts slowly, commencing with acquiescence to un-sourced material, followed by declarations of indignation and then submission to the siren song of righteousness.
While debate challenges statements and shares sources, silence submits acceptance.
Hush and listen my friend, for the transition is quieter than you might think.
Hush and listen my friend, for the transition is nearer than you might think.
In submission, silence bends a graceful knee.
Ask the Russians. Or the Venezuelans. Or those of Hong Kong. Or perhaps an elderly German, having witnessed such a transition in his or her lifetime.
“How?” we ask. “How did it happen to such a proud people?”
And if we are not prepared to fill the void of silence and say “No!” to a lack of fact and “Yes!” to an oft-times messy process of respectful debate, perhaps our children will ask the same of us.
“How did it happen?”
Will we answer, “I remained silent.”?
I think not.
Art credit: “Seam” 2012, St. Petersburg by Petr Pavlensky, photo c/o 1843/Economist.