Sunday, February 22, 2004

The Many Faces of Silence

Silence is not a word most would consider to have many meanings. And if you plug it into a dictionary it would say 'stillness' and yet there are so many other meanings.....quiet, calm, secrecy, uncommunicativeness.

For one who wants to show respect it can mean taking that moment of silence to remember. For some, silence, by choice, is letting the world in....stopping long enough to let your entire being take a deep breath. For one in an abusive relationship, silence can be a first.....and then it's a source of anxiety as you wait for the explosion to hit. And for one who has given their heart to that special person, silence can come close to breaking that heart as there's nothing more hurtful than being ignored.

It all depends on perspective, situation and experience. For some it's's choosing to slow down the pace of a hectic life and just be. For others it's the calm before the storm and not knowing when that storm will hit, keeps them on edge, counteracting all possible benefits of the silence. And alternatively, silence from the one most important to you cuts sharper than any words spoken in anger. It creates a void.

I watch people as they react to experiences, interactions and change in their lives. What hit me, though I had no trouble understanding it, was out of all these interactions, the one they reacted the most to was silence.

Charles deGaulle said "Silence is the ultimate weapon of power." And when you look at how powerfully it can affect another person, I think he's right.

It all stems from respect. If you give respect, you'll get it in return. And if you ignore a person as if they're inconsequential, then you show no respect at all. Something to think about and act upon the next time you decide to use it as a weapon of power instead of a tool to heal.

Donna Karlin

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