Silence Please!

Can we live without silence? On a literary plane, no! It is said that ‘Silent’ and ‘Listen’ contain the same letters of the alphabet and are hence interdependent. Childhood proverbs used to say: Silence is Golden. Our own mother language through the beautiful saying, ‘Tcchop chai rop senz, Karakh hai te son senz’ accords a higher place to silence. The Arabic literature is full of sayings which lay emphasis on the importance of silence as compared to speech. ‘Mann Sakata Salima , Wa mann Salima’ Naja is a well quoted quote. It means one who is silent, is safe. And one who is safe, is relieved. Another Arabic pearl of wisdom translates thus: One who speaks too much, makes more mistakes; and he who makes mistakes eventually commits more sins; and a sinner is disrobed of modesty; a heart without modesty is as good as dead; as a result people with no hearts can not enter the paradise
What brings me to talk about silence in this week’s column is the abundant use of rhetoric employed by our leaders while trying to connect to their audiences. Their inherent need to remain in the public arena is well understood. But at what cost? At the cost of becoming caricatures of their already stunted images? Or at the cost of relegating issues of much more importance to backyards of public memory? Missives and counter missives are all what we see in our newspapers these days. Come election time and the pitch gets louder. Reams of newsprint are wasted in presenting the views of a particular leader about another leader. And then the counter offensive. The vicious cycle, then, has no end. The same pattern is followed in “Kharaji Aqeedat, condolence, congratulations etc messages. Every head jostling for a space as large as a pin-head! And the result is very obvious. Generation of a lot of noise wherein nothing can be heard. Defeating the very reason behind all the tomfoolery. Can we as a nation, known for a bitter tongue, learn and practice the virtues of silence? As a nation, that is striving for its ethnic identity, can we use silence as a potent weapon? After all, argumentative silence is as good an instrument of communication as the argument itself. It essentially is the art of saying nothing when an opponent would expect something to be said. Poorly executed, it can be very offensive, like refusing to answer a direct question. However, well-timed silence can completely throw an opponent off the guard.
And for those who are still undecided about whether to remain silent or not, I present this beautiful maxim:  “Wisdom is said to be divided into two parts: (a) having a great deal to say and (b) not saying it.” Let silence prevail. Amen!


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