Day of Silence August 7, 2020
“Think before you speak.”
Is there anyone – anyone? – who will doubt the wisdom of this old saw? I’m going to go with “no.” I mean, “speak before you think” makes no sense. “Go ahead and spout any old garbage before you’ve given it any thought whatsoever” seems like foolish advice.
Now that we’ve got that clear, let me ask you another question: how can you possibly think thoughts if you are speaking? You can’t be thinking before you are speaking if you are constantly speaking.
I know people that seem to wake up with their mouths open and they only way you know they’ve fallen asleep is they stop talking. I have to assume they never think.
I also don’t understand how you can think a thought with constant noise. I don’t mean white noise that is tune-out-able. Vacuum cleaners and the word salad that crowd noise comes to if your ears don’t hone into a particular conversation aren’t what I’m talking about. I mean if the TV is always on, if singers are crooning lyrics in your ears, and if people are yapping information at you, how are you supposed to analyze information even at the most elemental level?
My brain doesn’t work the same way as everyone else’s, I get that. Maybe mine is a simpler tool, or an older model whose processor doesn’t work as fast or on as many levels. I’m a reel-to-reel processor in a Pentium chip world. I’m keen on deliberation, and that takes time and a bit of silence. A lot of the world sounds like this to me:
World: BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHWHAT DO YOU THINK?
Me: About Blah?
World: Yes about blah. Tell me now.
Me: Blah happened three seconds ago, give me a minute to think about it.
World: I think yadda about blah. What do you think about the yadda aspect of blah?
Me: That’s interesting, now I need two minutes instead of just one because I have to think about yadda AND blah.
World: YADDA! And BLAH!
Me: Yes, but…
World: You’re Anti-Yadda, aren’t you?
Me: I didn’t say that.
World: So you’re Pro-Yadda?
Me: I didn’t say that either. I just need a minute to think, which I can’t do when you’re talking to me.
World: You know, not taking a stand is the same thing as taking a stand – you can’t just be complacent. Either you’re with us or against us. You’re just a Wahwah-tard.
Me: [Tries hard to press ‘mute’ but, alas, the world does not have a mute button.]
The world is a complicated place with a lot of complicated people in it. None of us are line drawings – we’re three-dimensional beings with complex shades of infinite colors and textures. I’d like to figure out what I think about a lot of things, none of which are nearly as simple as anyone would have you think, but often I can’t because of all the shouting around me. I could do with a good wander around my own head. I’d like to take out a few thoughts I have, hold them in my hand and examine them in bright sunlight with no distractions. I suspect I’m not alone in this. I also suspect that a lot of the shouting people (even the people who have no idea that they are the ones doing the shouting) could benefit from this as well.
So I propose this: instead of a blackout or whiteout or day of protest or day where we all wear blue jeans or eat donuts or whathaveyou, we have a world-wide day of silence. Let’s cut the noise. Stop talking. Stop blah-ing and yadda-ing and insisting. Stop persuading and shouting.
Let’s think for a day.
Let our processors process.
Then, and only then, we can go back to speaking.
 Yes, I know. The reel-to-reel parts of old computers were probably not the processors, and Pentium chips are not the latest-and-greatest processors anymore. But the analogy still works if you don’t think too hard about it, so shut up.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.
Day of Silence