Silence is bliss. That’s something we have been told our entire lives, and sure silence can be a beautiful break from a long day, it can be just what we need to recharge and regain focus, but silence is not always the answer. Ted speaker Clint Smith wants us to be aware of the danger of letting silence run rampant in our lives.
Clint kicks off his Ted talk with a very powerful quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” The words that we don’t speak matter, perhaps even more so than the words that we do speak.
Clint says that he spent so much time telling people what they wanted to hear rather than telling them what they needed to hear. He thought that he was not in a position to be anyone’s conscious when he still needed to figure out his own.
Clint, who is a teacher, gives an example of a woman at a fundraising gala who praised him for teaching “unintelligent kids.” He bit his lip in the justification that the school needed her money more than his kids their dignity. It’s a moment he now regrets, but I think we have all had these moments.
We need to talk about silence
I think we are all guilty of this. We hear or see something that we know is not right, but we remain silent. Maybe we hear our co-worker or boss say something insensitive about someone else and we chose to ignore it, or nod our head in false agreement, just wanting the awkward moment to pass as quickly as possible.
There is an inherent danger to this. What we remain silent to today can have a very real ripple effect. Sometimes what we need to say may be uncomfortable but that doesn’t make it unnecessary. Our voice is powerful. Use it.
I strongly recommend watching Clint’s Ted talk. Towards the end, Clint jumps into poetry slam talking about the dangers of silence.
What do you think? Is there a danger to silence or should we just keep our mouth shut? I would love to hear your perspective in the comment box below.