The Price of Silence

Don’t say nothing when you want to say something
Contrary to popular views expounded by a few self help books, man’s problem is not that they say yes when they mean to say no, or indeed vice versa, man’s problem is that they refuse to say anything at all. Impartially assenting to everything may even be better than a shiftless refusal to commit oneself to any response whatsoever. The movie Yes Man may teach that saying no to life is wrong, but one must agree that saying no to life would be better than refusing to answer life at all. Our society is filled with people who are content to live their life with their heads bowed and senses numbed. They do not want to be noticed or to notice; they live in their own little sphere and let the rest of the world pass them by. When someone makes a plea for a social revolution, they pretend not to hear. If the crowd presses forward, they press along with it, unresisting but also unaggressive.


If you believe such people cannot exist, that this is a gross exaggeration and that in fact society is full of concerned proactive citizens, one has to only look at the numerous examples in the history of politics proving our point. In our own election, an amendment was introduced this time to allow people to be able to vote without electing any of the representatives, showing by this their lack of faith in all the parties and/or people’s representatives. This was supposed to woo back the public which said the reason for poor voter turnout in the last few years was not because of disinterest but due to an unwillingness to choose between equally untrustworthy parties. However even with this option of tangibly expressing their lack of faith in the election system, the voter turnout became lower, thus effectively showing that it’s not a matter of lack of choices, it is the inability of the public to make a choice. During Hitler’s regime many Germans realized the horrific nature of fascism and of Hitler’s actions, but that never caused them to rise in protest and challenge his ideas in any way. These citizens may not have enlisted in the army or helped capture the wanted Jewish citizenry but they also never spoke out against the system. These people didn’t say yes to Hitler but they also failed to say no. And this is precisely the reason most tyrants flourish. They are never really backed by supporters so much as by people who refuse to put their neck out and make a stand against them. Those who do challenge the bully in the playground find that after having defeated him against all odds the kids most glad of the release are the ones who stood behind the bully all along.


Perhaps this inability to commit oneself to anything is such a basic part of human nature that asking for its rectification is ridiculous. However there are a few who do rise up and dare to be heard, and there are many who do aspire to make a difference, so perhaps it oughtn’t to be so difficult to lay aside the indecisiveness in us and insist on answering and being answered. Tyrants will continue to flourish and bad governments will continue to be elected, but if some of their silent supporters cast aside their meek garb their reign would be a very short one indeed.


Pragya Mukherjee

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