Silence is golden!

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” – Alice Walker

Silence is powerful. As a child interrogated by adults I kept quiet, believing it was more useful to say nothing than to give away a secret in the face of authority. Sometimes I would forget to say something important, hoping that my silence would keep me out of trouble.

I mean, who really needed to know that the reason I came home dripping wet that one time was because I rode my bike into a lake … on purpose?

As an adult, silence still holds an amazing amount of power. If I don’t feel like announcing all those times I’ve been pulled over while driving (always receiving a ticket, mind you), I can choose not to.

Since becoming an adult I’ve also learned the powerful nuances of silence in conversation, especially for those of us living in Western societies. Silence could signal a lull in a lively talk, or it could be a powerful demonstration of acquiescence, withdrawal, anger, surprise, boredom or disappointment – to name but a few emotions represented by our chosen voicelessness. I remember vividly the conversations I’ve started and stopped with silence.

Indeed, silence can be the most powerful scream. You need not look farther than the scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” when Tippi Hedren and company exit their claustrophobic caged-in house, only to find a sea of birds waiting silently, threateningly.

A moment of silence can be a ritual to mourn a tragic event shared by many. It can also signal a time for reflection when used in prayer. Even in music silence is important. I can’t listen to any song with more than 150 beats per minute because, without silence, it sounds like static on the radio. Noise/Static clutters the mind and will never promote rest.

The silence I like is the silence I choose, not the silence imposed on me through the use of fear, intimidation or systematic discrimination. Silence under these conditions is rooted in the denial of personhood, the denial of the speakers’ capacity to deliberate and choose, and the denial of the listeners’ capacity to accept perspective and experience different than their own.

Because each new perspective teaches me about myself and the world around me, I understand that I hurt myself by silencing someone else’s experience. Even when that experience isn’t something I want to hear, listening still teaches me how I react when faced with the uncomfortable realities of other people’s lives.

And acknowledging those experiences creates room for questions to be asked and answered, provided you’re really interested in listening. And therein lies another power of silence. If we quiet ourselves and listen to what others are experiencing, we begin to rid ourselves of the notion that someone’s experience is less valid than our own, and in doing so we give others the humanity we wish in return.

Silence is powerful, indeed.


3 thoughts on “Silence is golden!

  1. I agree being silent at time’s does benefit you as a person if your trying to grow, because it gives you the ability to learn from the stupid things certain individuals say……instead of reactin to there response on the spot give them a silent stare you would get your point across without even saying words, thats the power silence has. But also you must speak on certain things cause certain people just need to hear that shit, so they wont think about saying that shit again excuse my french ! I must quote what my english teacher told me once ! K.I.S.S. “keep it simple stupid” cause everyone isnt as deep as you are you would go right over there head and seem weird in there eyes… so if your a deep individual your key to success is SILENCE and if you do decide to concur with the normal keep it simple… never let anyone get to close… thats my prespective…

  2. Eh, I partially agree. I think silence is more for the initiator, instead of the observer. For the initiator it should prompt more inner reflection. For the observer it should prompt a time of proactive thought.

    C.Jett, within your next opportunity to experience silence, try and focus more on you opposed to what others did. Let me know the outcome as it should provide more solace.

  3. Silence, I believe, also comes with wisdom. It is a powerful tool in ‘learning’ the situation in which you find yourself, in knowing when to take a back seat and allow others to espouse on a given topic. The wisdom comes in knowing just what to share and then allow your silence to ‘say’ the rest. People who lack intellectual depth and/or don’t give themselves the gift of quiet reflection, don’t know what to do with silence. Navigating that is power, and comes with wisdom. Your analogy of power, as we choose to use it, is a good one, but don’t forget the effective navigation requires knowing just when and how to incorporate.

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous :)

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