Silence is Golden?
‘Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent’ – Ludwig Wittgenstein
How often have we declared
“I simply had to say something”
But would it not have been better
If we had just said nothing?
Can silence actually say something?
When we remain tight lipped
In the face of some blatant calumny
An outrageous slander
But what is being said by the silence?
Approval, disapproval, support or opposition
Or it might simply be indifference
Who cares anyway?
You’ve met the silent participant I’m sure
The mute committee member at meetings
The deaf ear when asked for their view
The parent pretending not to hear offspring’s pleadings
The toddler who has discovered language
Her favourite word is Why?
Amusing at first, but eventually Dad wearying
Of this unending inquisition, resorts to silence
‘Speak now or forever hold your peace!’
The pronouncement on the brink of matrimony
Time to stifle the dark misgivings of the bride’s father
Who has refrained from expression of his inner forebodings
Then there’s the sullen teenager
Silent amidst internal angst
The morose husband
Long ago mislaid his power of speech
On a wider canvas, we refer to the Silent Majority
What is the meaning of this reticence?
If you are not for me – are you against me?
Such taciturnity – explain please!
But silence ought not always be indicted
In moments of ignorance, or awe, or tragedy
Whereof one cannot speak,
Thereof one must be silent