si·lence: noun: complete absence of sound; verb: cause to become silent; prohibit or prevent from speaking ~ from www.oxforddictionaries.com
It has been said that silence is golden, however for some reason I seem to only hear that statement from weary adults when referencing rowdy children. Knowing when to be silent is an important part of wisdom, it is a sign of growth in maturity, and it is often used as a means to show respect. Sometimes in our fast paced society we have forgotten the importance of being still, of being quiet, of allowing the silence to speak to us as life slows and our thoughts have a chance to catch up. Choosing when to be silent and when not to be silent is sometimes a difficult thing to discern, and unless we take the time to stop and really think, we may make the wrong choice.
Silence is a powerful thing that can communicate both to and from the person engaging in it. Just as avoiding the silence can communicate a fear of hearing what you need to know, remaining silent can communicate a fear of knowing what others need to hear. Have you noticed that in both instances fear is the motivating factor? In the first instance, it is the fear of finding knowledge, as once known, it will force the individual to make a choice between two things: denial of it or change because of it. In the second instance, it is the fear of the knowledge itself, as it will also force the individual to make a choice between two things: sharing a truth or hiding a lie. In both instances the choices may require some sort of painful consequence either to yourself or those you love. Yet, the choice that involves growth, the choice that models courage, the choice the stands for what it right, while perhaps painful, is always the better choice.
We have examples throughout history where people refused to stop and listen, of people who remained silent out of fear of the immediate consequences. Hitler’s Germany is probably one of the more extreme examples. Hundreds of thousands of Germans refused to stop and listen to hear what he was doing, refused to speak up and expose the truth as he slaughtered millions. How would world history have been different if more German countrymen had stood up against him and spoke as one!
Freedom of speech only works when Americans are not afraid to both listen and to break the silence. Our children will never understand its importance if adults do not model it for them. Our children will never know courage if their parents bow to fear, even if it is for their behalf. We all know that children pay far more attention to what we do than to what we say. So, are you doing anything to break the silence and model courage? Or are you embracing the silence and modeling fear? I worry that if the children of this generation do not see courage in action now, they will grow to be adults who only know how to model fear to the next.
As Christians, we are not called to have a spirit of fear, but a spirit of faith. As Americans, we are assured by our Constitution of the right to speak without fear. Combined together, we have a duty to speak up for what is right; we have no valid excuses to remain silent when faced with a wrong. We owe it to our country and we owe it to our children to be model of bravery, because that is how we will ensure that future generations know what it looks like. Are there consequences to being brave? Sometimes. Are those consequences painful? Usually. But in all of these instances there are teachable moments, where through perseverance we not only build our own character, but inspire others, including our own families, to do the same. Being brave not only takes an act of faith in us, it also plants the seed of faith in others. So, ask yourself today what kinds of seeds you are planting in your children, ones of fear, or ones of faith?
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.