As I write this editorial I find myself weary of words… so much dialogue these days, so many opinions, and yet, ironically, I share mine. As I weigh the values of each- the strength of silence versus the necessity of communication- I wonder how one recognizes when to speak up and when to refrain.
Used in a mindful manner, I believe silence can be a bridge to building a more impactful narrative. When you are silent, you listen more. Those who are comfortable with silence know how to hold the moment in a non-confrontational manner that evokes an honest, emotional connection from another. Practicing the pause increases our own mental clarity and self- awareness. Acclaimed business writer, Steven Covey, outlined a key relational principle as “seek first to understand and then to be understood.” How very true!
If an issue directly involves you, you might take the opportunity to speak your mind. If voicing your opinion adds value or clarity to the conversation, then express it. However unwanted commentary can be a little annoying, especially if it meanders with little purpose or goal. Very often we throw out an opinion to others and watch to see if it is supported and authenticated. Knowing when to stay quiet and when to speak up can be tricky but thinking about the consequences beforehand, whether your words add positive clarification or if they contribute to more confusion and harmful action, helps you to decide which to chose.
Silence can be both ethical and unethical. In some cases it is a legal right. If you are being arrested, you do have “the right to remain silent.” The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution permits you not to answer specific questions when you may, by the answers given, incriminate yourself. However, remaining silent also can be highly unethical, especially when it allows others to believe what we know for certain is not true. When witnessing a wrongdoing, remaining silent equates to acceptance. This is the time to be morally responsible and to speak up. As William Faulkner once said, “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth.”
In our loud and stressful environment, silence can be a soothing balm that eases our mind and releases tension. Yet we yearn for dialog that portrays integrity and humility and inspires through a clear positive vision. I wonder what we would talk about if we were only allowed a certain quota of words?
Alfred A. Dolezal
Eagle Crest Resort
Original Oils on Canvas
Limited Edition Series