Music ‘n Musings

Silence solves nothing


“The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel is one of the most well-known songs, and one of my personal favorites. The lyrics are a masterful call to action set against the countercultural movement of the 1960s. Most people only know it for its opening lyrics of “Hello darkness,” but as the song is written like a revelation, it offers a lot more under the surface.

The song’s main message comes from the title, “The Sound of Silence.” This is an oxymoron that reveals the message that silence is deafening. It’s shown again by the lyrics, “people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening.” “Silence like a cancer grows” describes the people who stay silent and worship the “neon god they made,” scared to disturb the quiet around them. They seem silent out of fear and uncertainty, trapping themselves.

Basically, when you refuse to speak up, you take away your own power. Nothing can be changed and those in the wrong continue to believe they are doing right. If you remain silent about the wrongs in the world, then you are enabling the wrongs to continue.

I was reminded of the poem written by Martin Niemöller in the early postwar period after World War II. It reads:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Words are powerful, powerful tools, and we in America are blessed to be able to use our freedoms of speech, expression and of the press to stand up for our beliefs.

Think of all the different movements from the past and present: the #MeToo movement, the March for Our Lives, Women’s Suffrage, the Women’s movement and the LGBT rights movement. These movements and the change brought about by them would not have been possible if all of these people had decided to stay quiet, sit back and let somebody else deal with it. Instead, they made their voices heard, enacting change and improving the world.

My advice to you is to pay attention to what’s going on in the world. If you see something you see as wrong, speak up. I’m a big believer that you don’t have the right to be angry about something after the fact if you did nothing to change it while it was happening.

Change cannot be achieved if no one calls attention to the problem. As the song implies, silence can become like a deadly disease, leading to the destruction of everything we hold dear. Stand up for your beliefs, even if you stand alone. Perhaps you can inspire others to do the same.