The Sound of Silence

Growing up in the Midwest, I learned at a young age that eerie outdoor silence is nature’s harbinger of severe weather–calm before the storm. The wind might kick up a little, but the birds and animals are keeping quiet vigil in their safe houses. Recent events have me asking myself, why didn’t I hear the silence before the storms?

Silence, it could be said, has a multiple personality disorder. Silence can be a warning, yes, but it can also be an emotional weapon—the silent treatment—a passive aggressive punishment. And silence can be a sign of depression, ennui or a certain kind of impotence—an inability or unwillingness to take action. Silence exerts power, significance and solemnity when she walks or sits in silent protest.

I’m a big fan of the good silences. I know that when I practice meditation it makes me calmer and clearer. There is peace in silence when you can find a sliver. I also believe an intentional moment of silence alone or with a group holding vigil is holy, and a way of radiating peaceful, positive energy to salve the crackling rage and violence that is smoldering just below the surface all around us ready to conflagrate anywhere at any time like it did in Las Vegas.

It has become a tradition for US lawmakers to hold just that kind of moment of silence after a major tragedy. Some of the Democratic lawmakers refused to partake in the ritual after the mass murder in Nevada stating it was not enough anymore. Several social justice groups and individuals also made that declaration. What we need is action, not silence, on gun control and not just on bump stocks and other similar devices, though that’s being touted as the first step toward “real” gun control legislation.  How long will that take? And how many more silenced lives?

Gun control is a particularly divisive issue in the US; the UK took further legislative action in 1997 after the Dunblane massacre of the previous year.  Here we have massacre after massacre and still cannot kick our addiction to guns and violence.

We need the silence of contemplation and the rational, just action that arises from it en masse.  Because more storms are coming, and we have run out of safe houses.

Some sites to check out if you wish to become more involved:

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Women Against Gun Violence

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Every Town for Gun Safety



8 Replies to “The Sound of Silence”

  1. “Silenced lives” is so right – and for what. Brilliant spiritual take on America’s neverending massacre of its own people. Bravo!

  2. You never cease to amaze me with your flawless writing and your perfectly put perspective. You know how I feel about what happened in Vegas. The rage starts to boil inside, so I rather not bring up all the anger that simmers because of such horrid, inexplicable, evil actions of a very sick maniac. And for him to have access to such a huge arsenal of weapons in the hotel room and at home is inconceivable to me. If I think about it too much, I will be hesitant to go anywhere, yet being desensitized to all the violence BECAUSE IT IS SO PREVALENT, is a very sad way to live the gift of life. So, I count my blessings and move forward, never forgetting the horrors that have taken place, but continuing to pray that there will be no more.

  3. Love the way you wove the silence before the storm imagery with moments of silence. Elegantly and powerfully written and so very, very true. Really enjoyed reading this.

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