Silence takes many forms. Recognition of inner stillness, the stillness we all share. A chosen absence of speech, which is often quite powerful in conversation or debate. A reaction to circumstance or event.
Silence, I was reminded by Gaston Bachelard, a French 20th Century non-conformist whose interests and education spanned from mathematics to philosophy to chemistry to physics to poetry to architecture, is also “the source of our first suffering… and lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak.”
The world is full of talk today, yes? Little of it, though, is other than superfluous banter at others and not genuine conversation with them. It’s often disparaging, disrespectful and even demeaning.
Frequently, our most important conversations lay dormant, remaining latent as a result of the fear of any number of things, including perceived lack of qualification or authority, or the risk of humiliation.
Herein lies Bachelard’s point. A voice suppressed or withdrawn or belittled is, indeed, a form of suffering. It’s a missed opportunity to connect with others in ways that promote growth, understanding and acceptance. It’s the most important vehicle of self-expression we have, and far more important that any superficial expression.
I have many interests, and I can even muster an opinion. But bigger topics, even risking areas of disagreement, are what intrigue me because there is no one right answer to any question.
I respect courage, self-reflection, equanimity and, yes, silence in its most powerful context. They’re all wonderful tools to build relationships and societies of fairness and diversity. One conversation at a time.
Welcome to SilentThingsWithinUs.