Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Power of Silence

So the last while I've been feeling like, really awful. I'm at home, typing on my new laptop, the keys of which I'm still not used to, and trying to keep abreast of the blogosphere. I've been having a lot of thoughts in my head, but it's like, one ear in, the other ear out, and moreover, the longer I stay in Malaysia, the more I think in short sentences, none of which are useful for very long blog posts like this one.

The other day, while making name cards for myself (another project which isn't going too well, seeing as my Photoshop skills are set at Basic), I thought it would be nice to have in the background, "Silence may be golden, but diverse voices make a symphony."

Oddly enough, just a few days after I thought this up, this feature on gold came up on The Big Picture, which solidified a few things I was thinking about the saying, "silence is golden."

Gold, being a limited resource and, well, very shiny, is valued. I like gold, particularly white gold, mostly because unlike silver, it doesn't tarnish, which is one of the reasons why a lot of people like gold. To remain untarnished is a bit like immortality. Also, gold craftmanship is pretty awesome, because it's such a fragile material.

In no way do I think this is applicable to silence. Silence is not valued because it doesn't tarnish. It can't look bad when tarnished, because silence is what does the act of tarnishing.

At the cost of gold, to decorate a few, many have to go into mud and dig. They put their lives in peril, and from the looks of it, they don't live exactly picture-perfect lives.

Yes, silence is great. When someone else is talking, stay quiet and let them have their say. Silence is good for concentration; clears the mind and all.

But silence is also oppressive. There isn't music in silence. To be told, continually, to be silent, when others get to speak all the time, is to be ignored, devalued, and told that your voice and your thoughts are not welcome.

Too many people are silenced in order to make those who have the freedom to speak (and think that being silent is a choice) comfortable with the discourse at hand. There is only certain music that can be played, and it cannot be jarred by the insertion of an instrument that does not belong in the symphony.

There are many symphonies. If each person is a song, we can't expect them to have the same tune, nor the same genre, same riffs, same instruments. They are necessarily different.

Even if putting them together makes a cacophony, when it comes to people, we are not better served by silencing a few voices.

People are too important for that.

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