For someone who talks as much as I do, writes as much as I do, and makes a living with words, I’d like to use a few of them to praise the power of silence.
The first time someone ripped into my book on amazon, I wanted to respond, show them how wrong they were, prove (with a flourish) they hadn’t read the book. I gave it some thought, even wrote a draft. And a tiny voice whispered in my ear, “Do you really think you will change this person’s mind? Make them come to their senses? Suddenly burst into tears, beg your forgiveness and re-write her fury into love? Well, no, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. So I spared myself the fingers and editing and said nothing.
Had I taken up the sword, the critic would have simply dug in her heels and insisted she was right, and more so. Saying nothing, keeping silent, was an excellent choice.
Recently, I wrote a review of a book that had (in my opinion) flaws. Carefully couching the critique in words that showed it was simply my opinion and taste, I said the book didn’t strike me as either a memoir or a history, and explained why. Someone, possibly a friend of the author, wrote a comment pointing out my mistakes and how I clearly didn’t understand history or “get” the brilliance of the book. Again, I chose silence.
There is power in not arguing, not proving our point. It’s more than not having to be right, it’s letting the other person’s view stand in the open, giving it space to be an opinion and stand for itself.
Yes, sometimes we have to stand up and speak out. Social justice issues can’t be kept quiet. But the majority of the responses aren’t about social justice, they are about control, or needing to be right, or just being heard. And for that, silence is a power that has strength.
—Quinn McDonald is enjoying some silence as she prices items for the garage sale this coming Saturday.