Monday, June 20, 2016

The suffering of silence.

“There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”—Mark Twain

In a post from another blog I spoke about putting legs under our words and titled the post, Talk without action is cheap (and worthless). Our satirist Mark Twain apparently agreed with Mr. Einstein, given his quote above. The essence of his words, and mine, concerns accomplishments, or worse; apathy and complacency—the death knells of accomplishment.

Far too often our tendency is based on the flawed notion of, “It ain’t my problem,” with the corresponding notion of making nice and not rocking the boat. We maintain a conspiracy of silence, motivated by an unspoken consensus to not mention or discuss given subjects in order to maintain group solidarity, or fear of political repercussion and social ostracism. “Nice people” avoid controversy and ignore the plights of those, seemingly not like us. In so doing we exhibit the mantra of the assumed elite: A “CEO of Self.”

When you cut through the pomposity, a conspiracy of silence is cowardly dishonest and delusional to the point of refusing to acknowledge our connectivity with the interrelated fabric of life. The complexity of living in today’s world is straining this practice to the breaking point. When does rampant disease become our problem? When does injustice become our problem? When does poverty, or the growing economic polarization become our problem? Bigotry? Racism? Hatred? Environmental catastrophes?

We are now engaged in a political campaign for electing the next POTUS and the choices we make will have an impact for years to come. There are many who vote in unthinking ways, toeing the party line or choose to not vote at all, based on the flawed idea that choosing between lesser evils is still voting for evil. We might want to bear in mind that we should never hold the possible, hostage to the perfect. There are no choices that are perfect this side of enlightenment so we must make better choices, not perfect ones.

In 1925, following World War I (the War to end all wars: What a farce!) T. S. Eliot wrote a poem called The Hollow Men. The poem of 98 lines ends with “probably the most quoted lines of any 20th-century poet writing in English.” Eliot captured the spirit of apathy brilliantly and concluded that the silent conspirators rule the world, not by force, but rather by inaction. He said, 

“We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.”

“Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is…
Life is…
For Thine is the…

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

Haunting words to contemplate.
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