September 11, 2006

Fighting silence

Sept. 11, 2006

SILENCE is the enemy of the poet, the painter, the musician and the actor. Artists attack the blank paper, the bare canvas, the silent studio and the empty stage, finding themselves insufferable foes.

As a writer, it is my life’s work to fight the silence. But I know that sooner or later, I will be overcome. Silence will be the death of me.

Silence kills. Without conversation, our monologue strays into presumption, paranoia and pride. We say the wrong things, if only to have something to say. Silence gives voice to our insecurities, our prejudices and our madness. It is a blindness with which we fall for the traps we ourselves made, collide with the walls we ourselves built, and wander away from our very salvation.

Silence begets silence. It is the attrition of fools. It is to answer that we are cowards not worth a response. Silence is suicide. It is to still one’s heart when another feels for a pulse.

I hate silence. But it is an implacable foe I have fought all my life. I know it well. The silent—all those who are unforgiving and unforgiven —are but part of a chorus that has ceaselessly sung the soundless litany of all that makes me unforgiving and unforgivable. So go on, as I myself will go on. I live for this fight.

"Lying is done with words and also with silence."—Adrienne Rich, feminist and poet

"We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."—Martin Luther King Jr., pastor and civil rights martyr

"Experience teaches us that silence terrifies people the most."—Bob Dylan, folk singer and rock legend

"It’s so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don’t say it."—Sam Levenson, humorist and journalist.

(For the rest of the piece, click blog title. I specially dedicate this column to the Energy beat reporters and the Philippine Coast Guard.)

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