So we have all heard praises for the outspoken. We have all applauded the fine orator. We have all put our hands together for that thunderous speech. We have all pledged solidarity against the oppression of the voice. We have all…therefore, been the oppressors of silence…here’s ruminating the how and the why…
A democratic atmosphere seems to be the norm of modern civilization. We aspire and desire for democracy in our politics, in our parenting, in our religion and in our marriages. What we understand as democracy is the dissolution of hierarchies, inequalities, imbalances. Somehow this disintegration remains restricted to external factors and systems. For, our internalized views and thoughts seldom undergo that filtration process we fancy as democracy. The internalized, unquestioned, uncontested hierarchy of the outspoken over the tacit, the overt over the covert and the extrovert over the introvert is a case in point. We have all adopted, at least apparently, to respect the politically correct voices of feminism, of humanism, of alternate sexuality, of communism. But democracy actually begins one step before that….at a more fundamental level- the democratic right to decide whether to exercise the voice or not.
A room full of conversationalists, eloquent and lucid, exerting their fiercest argument about the latest political headline amidst the silent brooder who ponders over the motivation for individuals to seek an ideology to belong to. We inevitably fail to hear the unspoken…and thereby oppress the silent.
A café full of musicians, ardent and passionate, volunteering their take on the latest string quartet at the City Hall amidst the silent preacher who can soak in the content but shares no familiarity with the context. We invariably fail to respect the ignorance…and thereby oppress the silent.
A house full of relatives, chattering and bickering, exercising the bonds of blood and brotherhood who are confessing intimate secrets and solacing repeated wounds amidst the silent observer who satiates himself with the emptiness of the moment. We always fail to appreciate the boredom of the disinterested…and thereby oppress the silent.
For, we the oppressors unknowingly and unwittingly privilege the spoken word over the unspoken one. We assume that thoughts can exist only in the pronounced word. We expect that every intelligent thought be spelled out. We arbitrate a sacrosanct contract with the wisecrackers and the speechmakers thus robbing the rest, remaining and reserved of their rightful space of respect, of their democratic right to be, of their choice to lay claim to silence…deliberately, consciously, willingly! And no, do not speed to reach for the closest psychoanalytical explanation for such reticence in traumatic childhood experience. The silence exists for its own sake, in the arms of its own comfort, in the embrace of its own acceptance. So free it by letting it be…silent!