When silence is not golden

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There is an old adage which says “Silence is golden.” But a few random incidents in recent times seem to indicate to a radical shift in how people, especially the younger generation, view this old adage. And the paradoxical message seem to be “Silence is not always golden”, especially since silence, at times, has been indicative of cowardice and seen to contribute sometimes in delaying, if not total denial, of justice. There might be wisdom in this new found belief, but only if our words are guarded, controlled and well chosen. A testimony of this could be the recent confession of a cop regarding his part in the broad daylight killing of an “unarmed” Sanjit in the infamous BT Road killing case. It may not be too excessive to suggest that the cop’s confession made before media persons on the eve of the Republic Day on January 26 is seen as a cradle of hope by many. However, as the matter is before a court and the matter being sub-judice, it will be inappropriate to comment further.

We have an old Manipuri saying “Sha na shibana khongulda, Mina shibana chin da” which could be roughly translated into animals are tracked down by their footsteps and killed, while men die because of the words they speak. Yes, silence is golden when you know not what you are saying. Silence can also be golden when we feel the argument is not going anywhere and distinctively sense that the other party is unable to grasp our point or vice versa. However, on a wider canvas, the lack of expression/words or a stoic silence could do as much damage as the wrong choice of words. In this context, Manipur too has suffered a lot due to silence. The general belief being that silence of the people against rampant corruption and government indifferences to public woes; and the recurrent silence of the government to the public woes have bogged down the State for long. The numbing silence of the public towards corruption and the government’s attitude of maintaining a stoic silence and responding to any demand only when the deadlines have been crossed, have only slowed down the journey forward.

From a psychological point of view, silence does enhance concentration and promote meditation and in view of this, the adage “Silence is golden” applies on a more personal and psychological level. There can be no greater fulfilment than maintaining a stoic silence when one is seeking calm or peace, or when one is unaware of the subject matter being discussed and would like to avoid an ignorant utterance. In fact, there are times when one can say a lot more just by being silent. But this would be an altogether different argument from the one put forth here. Certainly, it would not be golden, if we maintain silence and conceal the truth being fully aware that our silence would hurt someone else and that speaking out could have benefitted someone or if our voice could help in the deliverance of justice. People should feel obligated to stand up and speak out the truth and not miss the opportunity to straighten things out if we can. Surely the adage is ripe for some further thoughts.

Leader Writer: Wangkheimayum Bhupendra Singh

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