Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Silence

‘Silence’ is the most oft-repeated word in a teenager’s life. Teenagers are bubbly, full of enthusiasm, chirpy- while this word is a killer for them. We often get to hear sermons from our parents and elders on how important silence is in one’s life, which often start with the typical silence-shows-your-good-and-womanly-personality statements and end with it-saves-you-from-trouble declarations. But is silence only and only linked to ‘The Greater Good’? Personally, I don’t think so.

A teenager like me might not be totally acquainted with the true meaning of ‘silence’. Those who have suffered by the hands of this very silence are the handicapped ones of our society- the deaf and the dumb. How utterly difficult it seems remaining silent, controlling your emotions and knowing that you would never be able to phrase the lava of feelings bubbling inside you into words, is a question only they can answer. For them, silence is the thing which separates them from the world outside.

Words are the easiest way of communication, and I guess people who are blessed to use this medium do not really know the pros and cons of it. Silence can kill. Yes, physically and mentally. While in old times silence was accepted as a holy trait, nowadays it is deemed as the biggest flaw in any person’s persona. It is labelled as a weakness. And this weakness paves a path for others to take advantage of any person. Silence might be indicating innocence, but does this world value innocence? Innocent people are crushed as easily as those rose buds which die instantly when a person tramples on them. A life of silence is not less than a life of misery. Is such a life worth living?

In the subcontinent, marriages serve as the best example of how silence can ruin lives. Girls are forced into marrying someone they do not wish to marry, while their opinions (which are rarely expressed due to the fear of social stigma) are also not taken into consideration. In such cases, silence becomes a cage for them, snatching away the freedom they would have attained if their feelings would have taken the shape of words. Not only this, but silence also promotes injustice. A bloody picture of silence was painted artistically by the Sialkot incident in which two young boys were brutally beaten to death while the people around just stopped and stared. Their silence took away lives, and murdered humanity.

But silence on the other hand can also be a weapon. Debates in which everyone is busy fuming over small issues, a successful debater remains silent, and observes. And when finally that person speaks, everyone is forced to seal their lips, because such a person is more rational, and has more valid and concrete points which have been accumulated from the minutes of silence he spent preparing his rebuttal.

Moreover, when it comes to arguments with parents or your spouse, silence plays an important role as it prevents petty issues from turning into disastrous life-ruining decisions. In some cases (definitely not all), it makes the other person realize his mistake too (which is very commonly seen in movies and soaps). A person who argues a lot and is busy showering words upon the other person, often fails in justifying his stance. Less and meaningful words matter more, while the rest of the time silence helps in promoting a peaceful atmosphere. This is precisely why all the Prophets and saints believed in the power of meditation. Take the example of Holy Prophet or Gautuma Buddha- a major part of their life has been spent in meditation, not in arguments involving a hefty exchange of words. Saying the right thing at the right moment is what matters. While for the not-so-right moments, silence is a heavenly abode. This protective bubble saves you from exaggeration, lies and embarrassing moments. And this is precisely why people often say that when words are silver, silence is gold.

In the 21st century, however, unless and until one expresses his opinions, a person has absolutely no worth. His ideas, his creativity, and his originality- everything piles up in a corner which is shadowed by his silence. To flourish in this world and to leave behind a mark, one should strike a correct balance between silence and verbal expression. In this way, he can become a saint while being a billionaire.