It’s been said, “When you have nothing to say, it’s usually best to say nothing.” Most people, typically, do have something to say, but most people, also, will usually say nothing. Something is often better said than nothing being said because saying something can give someone else’s deafening silence some illuminating context. Are you following me? It can reveal the silence to be what it frequently is, insecurity, fear, or intimidation. The spoken also gives the silent an opportunity for its own expression, to move beyond its, otherwise, timid and invisible nature. It can give silence an opportunity to speak, or, if need be, to hunker down and embrace its own timidity. Some people can remain silent forever, and some people just need the expression of others to initiate their own. Saying nothing seemingly implies, albeit wrongly, that there is nothing to be said. That will sometimes be the case, but there is almost always something to be said.
Silence is often a blanket that we hide behind. Sometimes saying nothing is the wise and prudent thing to do, but more often than not it is actually just the more comfortable thing to do. Silence can also be a powerful means of control. If you express an opinion, or perspective, and I express nothing, then I can feel in control because I know what you think, but you have no idea what I think. I guess that works for people who need to feel in control, but it makes for dishonest, and disingenuous, relationships. Unfortunately, those are the kind of relationships that many people seek, and are satisfied with today.
The thing about not speaking up is that it tends to become a habit. Those who don’t speak up, by their silence, practice not speaking up, and that practice becomes their manner of being, their lifestyle, and ultimately, their personality. That’s fine, but it’s also kind of sad.
Over the past twenty years or so, and the past decade in particular, PC (Political Correctness, I call it Personal Cowardice) has taken such root, and spread so silently across our culture, like the Swine Flu was supposed to have done, that many people have lost, not only their ability, but also their inclination, to even express themselves anymore. And the thought police, the social and political fascists, who determine for us what we may, or may not, believe, do, or say, find it all to be quite satisfying. It leaves their voice as the only voice left to be heard.
You say that I’m exaggerating the dynamic? But if you think so, then ask yourself, when is the last time you spoke an unpopular opinion, or a point of view that you knew would not be embraced by the person, or group, that you happened to be with at the time? Or that would cause them to raise an eyebrow about who you are, or what you believe?
Fear. It governs us like gravity governs the earth.
What is that Thomas Jefferson quote that we all seem to have heard, and like to think we take to heart, but, honestly, never do?
Oh yeah, “All tyranny really needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Does that remind anybody of what’s going on today?
In our Culture? In our Government?