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May 09 2012

Let’s Have A Moment Of Silence…

…for the “moment of silence”.

A moment of silence, a moment of prayer,
A moment of nothing, a bit of dead air
Just sit on your asses to show that you care
That’s all that we ask you to do.
No need to give money, or effort, or blood,
Just hush now, responding to fire or flood,
Tornado or hurricane, lava or mud,
Your silent support will come through!

It’s practically sacred; it’s holy, it’s right;
A moment of silence to show them our might—
An important avoidance of action tonight—
As important as nothing can be!
We have to do nothing, so everyone knows
That while we appear to be lost in repose,
Our silence is everything! This, I suppose,
Is the message. Or what I can see.

The absence of action, the failure to act;
A moment defined by the sound that it lacked
The notion that “nothing” is helpful, in fact,
Is a puzzle to me, I confess;
The clinging to something which others dismiss
The drowning of hope in a hopeless abyss;
The ignorance proudly relabeled as bliss
There is truly no way to do less.

So the other day, NPR streamed a concert by Fun. (or FUN. or fun. depending on whom you ask.) It’s the first time I’ve seen, in the wild, somebody who has put to use my favorite alternative to the “moment of silence”. At around 76:20 (very near the end of the concert), lead singer Nate Ruess shouts out “I need you to meet someone that you’ve never met in the audience! Make a new friend–let’s go!” A friend who saw them in concert recently says they regularly do this, and that it is a wonderful thing to see (and be part of) in action.

A moment of silence accomplishes nothing, other than perhaps a false sense of having done something useful. A moment of meeting someone you have never met before makes the world a better place.

4 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    “A moment of silence accomplishes nothing, other than perhaps a false sense of having done something useful.”

    Well, it is supposed to replace the call to prayer. Different name, same function.

  2. 2
    Lynn Wilhelm

    I’m thinking that in schools the students could be told to say one nice thing to someone in the room–a new person each day? I once taught at a school that had a “moment of silence”. I tried to ignore it and let the students do what they wanted (in general anyway).

  3. 3
    Mimmoth

    Well, I guess it depends how it’s being used.

    A moment of silence accomplishes nothing, but sometimes it’s a gesture of respect–a moment of silence for the victims of a tornado or something, before we go on with organizing the work.

    Gestures of respect are culturally determined, often make no sense to someone outside the culture, and usually accomplish nothing, except to be an emotional marker. Removing one’s hat, for example, accomplishes nothing. But I see nothing wrong with removing one’s hat at a funeral or the like.

  4. 4
    Matty

    Well, it is supposed to replace the call to prayer. Different name, same function.

    Are you sure? I thought the idea of a formal silence originated in the two minutes silence instituted after WWI mostly in societies where formal public prayer was still expected. I suspect the originators saw it as an addition to any religious memorial services not an alternative.

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