The Power of Silence?download epub version
from the BBC. Comment follows.
Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath.
Shut out the world around you.
Those moments when you are immersed in quietness are all too rare in today's world.
Noise pollution is a companion to modern life, with traffic, ringtones and other people's conversations providing the soundtrack to our daily routines.
But at this time of year, when the echoes of the bangs and fireworks of the calendar's noisiest festival have only just passed, it's the absence of noise that takes centre stage.
On Thursday, Armistice Day, the nation will fall silent for two minutes at 11am and recall the moment the bombs stopped in 1918. Many will also respect a silence on Sunday.
This sombre reflection is probably the most famous expression of silence in British society, and it will have an even stronger resonance this year.
This week, the Royal British Legion released a single called 2 Minute Silence, which is competing for top spot in Sunday's Top 40 with Take That's first record since their reunion, The Flood. The Legion's video features noiseless contributions from some famous figures.
The Legion's director general, Chris Simpkins, said he hoped people would appreciate the significance of the absence of sound.
"Rather than record a song, we felt the UK public would recognise the poignancy of silence and its clear association with remembrance."
But silence need not be sad or contemplative. It has many powerful functions, depending on the circumstances. Here is a selection. Add some more using the form at the foot of the page.”
...the silence that serves as an oasis in the desert of our apathy and self-absorption serves as nothing more than penance for the misdirected noise between commemorative silences.
Silence is not a great weapon against noise pollution. It does not make us think, or reflect to any profound degree if the noise that we make between silences is generally insensible, juvenile, or of self-absorbed origins. Putting it another way, if we are prone to idiotic expressions, we aren’t going to think like great philosophers when we shut up. So, in this context, silence becomes nothing more than a break from rubbish, and does little to allay its constant accumulation. Before a persons says, ‘shut up, i’m thinking’, i’d like to see what s/he has to say between thoughts. If the latter is nonsensical or self-absorbed, then nothing much is going to come out of silence.
And within this context, we can plausibly assume, that the silence that serves as an oasis in the desert of our apathy and self-absorption serves as nothing more than penance for the misdirected noise between commemorative silences. And in that, we can congratulate ourselves that we are good people and have done our part before moving on to taking part in the general apathetic silence that continues even whilst we are at our noisiest.
ed’s comment at the aforelinked BBC site,
“Silence is a most powerful tool if it is complemented with appropriate action betwixt silence.
One can just imagine what would have been achieved if the feminist, indian independence, etc, movements, remained 'silent' whilst continuing to behave in ways that were expected of them.
Silence is dispensable when it is complemented by appropriate action. In that, the silence of the past led to those evils which we commemorate via silence?
Whatever our skills in being quiet at appropriate times, our actions didn't stop the invasion of Iraq did it. In this, our silence is just an intermission between its apathetic counterpart - which is going to give rise to more commemorative silences in the future. Count me out. “