I’ve been putting off writing this for a long time because I failed and started talking around 1:30, after only four hours of silence. I had a good excuse – someone who I rarely see anymore had come to visit, and I didn’t want to waste a chance to hang out by not talking at all – but Ive still felt awful about blowing it for the last few days. Still, feeling guilty isn’t going to help anyone so… we’re just going to move on.
I did a whole presentation in silence for my History of Social Thought class. It was a power-point presentation about a social thinker, I choose Kathleen Hanna, that covered their lives and their beliefs with special attention paid to the ways in which their life experiences may have influenced their beliefs.
Even though I didn’t manage to uphold the day fully, I think the observations that I made during my silence are still worth sharing. This presentation gave me a unique opportunity while experiencing my silence; specifically, it gave me an immense appreciation for the people who did speak. Allow me to explain: the method I had come up with for presenting in silence involved relying upon the voices of my classmates to help relay information by taking turns to read my slides aloud. I created some additional slides specifically about the day of explain the Day of Silence to them, and encourage them to participate while also explaining that, by being my voice today they were also supporting the movement.
Although many people in my class choose not to participate, I felt incredibly supported by the few students who read for me. So much so that, once I sat down, I couldn’t stop thinking about what this feeling might translate to in real life. It was this experience that reinforced my commitment to being a voice for those who are silenced on the other 364 days each year. Its not enough to just tape up my mouth and educate the people who give me confused looks one day a year; instead, I have to use my voice however and whenever I can to speak for those who are silenced for whatever reason.
That feeling that I got when the people around me rallied to say the words that were in my mind, but could not pass through my lips… that’s the feeling that I want for everyone, because that feeling is what leads to a world where people don’t feel silenced, a world where everyone knows that it is safe to speak up there will be other voices ready to join in and strengthen their own. That’s the world I want, and I appreciate the Day of Silence for providing a way of getting a little bit closer to that world each year.