Is Silence Truly Golden, Or Simply the Easy Way Out?
We have all heard the old adage that “silence is golden” and maybe “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” We are always told that wise older men are slow to speak. Frequently the trope of the stoic, quiet, older gentleman is used in movies, books and other media to illustrate the commonly held thought. Silence is often considered a sign of wisdom and experience and in a world full of noise we tend to pay attention to this kind of people. I have known many men like this, when they finally spoke people listened because the expectation was that something of note was about to be spoken. It has been my personal experience that this is like many things, in some cases true and in other completely wrong. I have had as much experience with the second quote proving to be accurate “Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool than to Speak and Remove All Doubt” as with the traditional movie trope of wisdom.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is a reason that idea exists. I have known men that when they bothered to speak, you should definitely take note of what came out of their mouths. As I gain some age myself I have some new perspectives that shape my view of this as well. Here are a few more possibilities for the silence.
Complete and utter indifference to the topic at hand. I might very well keep silent in a discussion or situation because I truly don’t care.
Ignorance on the topic. This runs closely along the open the mouth and prove it line. However, if I feel that I have inadequate experience or knowledge on the topic and I have nothing of value to add to the conversation, then I won’t.
Learning. I will keep my mouth shut and listen and watch before I add.
It doesn’t really involve me. I have had people try to include me in a conversation out of courtesy to the fact I am there. It is polite and I appreciate the gesture, but if you are really talking to my wife or someone else I am with it’s unnecessary (at least for me). I am content to be silent and let it play out.
SO there are many reasons for men (or anyone else) to be silent; they all have a place and time.
A problem begins to occur when any of those reasons are used to be silent when we should be shouting at the top of our lungs. Too often we have been silent in the name of tolerance and letting people alone to live as they please. Don’t get me wrong, I am not encouraging you to be nosey or to interfere with personal choices. I am a big advocate for live and let live; I want to be left alone and I don’t want to bother anyone else. Taking on this project of The Fallible Man is uncomfortable as I am normally a very private individual that is happy just minding my own business and letting the world go by.
When personal choice impacts others it is no longer personal choice.
In my last post I talked about when I was a smoker. I never smoked around people who did not choose to be close to me when I was smoking and certainly never around anyone who had no say or choice but to be close. It was my bad habit and my informed choice to accept the risks and consequences. I would not smoke around others because I have no right to hurt other people in the name of my choice. When my choice hurts someone else outside of their choice to be involved, it is no longer my right. You never have the right to hurt someone else by your choice.
Silence is a choice, it is not your right. Whatever reason that a person chooses to be a quiet individual, they have every right to do so. My wife is an introvert and so am I to an extent. My extroverted personality comes from years of conditioning myself to be so. When I see posts with a remote cabin and nothing but a wood stove asking would you live here I say yes in a heartbeat. I could go weeks without ever leaving my house or seeing anyone. If you feel the same, I get it. If not, I understand you too as that is the other part of my family tree. I understand wanting to keep to yourself and mind your own business.
When silence hurts others it is no longer a right or a real choice for a good person. We have a responsibility to humanity at large to speak out and stand against things that are wrong or evil. Passing by someone in danger and doing nothing makes you liable, not in a legal sense (maybe that as well) but in a moral sense. Standing by while wrong is committed when you can do otherwise is wrong. If there is just cause for moral outrage, then there should be moral outrage. Followed by action of some kind.
Last night I stayed up late to finish a YouTube video that I made outside of my normal content. I have been tracking the story of Netflix’s show “Cuties” since before they released it. I signed the petition to have the poster removed because it was reprehensible that a company would post such a sexually exploitative image of children. I have followed the story as they released the show and have seen clips covered in news stories that confirm my original impression. I have even listened to the explanations of why it is not sexually exploitative, according to the director and some uppity columnist it is the exact opposite. They claim it brings it to the public eye and shows people it should be raged against. You don’t fight child exploitation by exploiting young girls and having them do sexually exploitative things on camera. That is not reason or logic. So I stayed up and made a video about it. It may not be much, but I saw something wrong and had a platform to say something about it, so I had to say something.
If you are inclined to agree this link is the petition to remove the show and pursue legal action against Netflix for participating in child exploitation.
Be it this cause or another, we cannot sit on our hands and keep silent when there is injustice or evil in the world. The world at large is ignoring the wholesale genocide happening in China right now as they imprison and kill Uighurs Muslims at holocaust levels. Yet the “civilized” world is silent and Disney films Mulan right next to the internment camps. You do not have to pick a cause I care about, but as a man you must seek justice and what is right. You cannot sit idly by and bask in silence at the sake of other people and evil. Men have fought since the beginning of time, we were designed to protect those who could not protect themselves. You may never fight a physical battle, but not all battles are physical anymore and they never really were.
Be silent no longer men. Speak for those who need help and against those who would do harm. Silence is not golden if it hurts others
Be better tomorrow because of what you do today!
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. – Edmund Burke
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