Silence isn’t Golden
Okay so no-one wants talking in their movie theaters (or texting for that matter) so silence has its moments. I also think that silence is a needed part of our day, a spiritual practice many of us could use to spend more time with in our lives. And sometimes silence really speaks in way that truly is golden.
Silence has its place… but it can also be its own kind of injustice.
All week I’ve really been continuing to play with Moses as a portrait of faith, but now I’m turning to Elijah and the prophetic role we all share of speaking truth to power.
And the first thing this reminds me of is that silence is always interpreted. Silence rarely means no opinion is given; it just gives the listener the ability to interpret your silence. I cannot count the number of times I have heard people say that they don’t want to speak to controversial topics until they have to, or at all so there is room for multiple voices on the subject. They don’t want to “go on record” or “offend.”
My problem is this, when we do not speak out against injustice than we condone it.
Silence in the presence of oppression and harm makes the silent one a tacit perpetrator of the harm and oppression. This is true of individuals – when my child, still learning good judgment and character, strikes another person as a way of voicing displeasure I have the choice to either condone the action or correct the action.
Silence is not a middle response, it condones the action.
That I know it, and did not speak out against it, means I agree with the choice.
This is true as well for institutions, communities, and social/political/economic systems. If we see ways they harm another and choose silence, we are choosing to say we are okay with it – that is the choice we would make. And I’m not okay with that kind of silence. Do I opt for it at times – yes. I’m far from a good prophetic role model. Do I feel shamed by my silence, yes – but apparently not enough to change it all the time.
The call to prophetic voice is a universal calling. Is it easy to speak up? Are there consequences we would not choose? Will we offend, and be put on record for our offense?
This is why we choose silence, no matter what other excuses we might offer ourselves.
God invites us, human desire for a common good invites us, we NEED to invite each other to find our voice. We need to speak – in love – truth to one another, even when we aren’t sure that truth is right (so we also speak it with humility, open to counter-voices as well).
Being wrong is okay. Being corrected is necessary. Offending established thought in the name of righting injustice is blessedness. Silently condoning the harm of our neighbors IS NOT to be tolerated or practiced. Help me speak.