“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lately a phrase from a TED Talk I’ve seen has been rattling in my mind. “Silence is the residue of fear.” In this talk, Clint Smith makes a short but powerful statement on the power we grant by keeping quiet in the face of adversity.
Words are incredibly powerful, but so is silence. Silence can be as damaging as negative action. The silence of people allows tyranny and wrongdoing to continue.
Some of us find that we’re part of the oppressing group, while opposing those ideals. When people who find that they’re in that oppressing group, their voice against the wrongdoings becomes a weapon.
Sometimes I find it hard to speak up. Occasionally I’m simply at a loss for words, but most of the time the underlying cause behind my silence is fear.
Fear of judgement. Of rejection. Of hate and slander aimed back towards me.
Fear of not being enough.
A single strand of sewing thread can easily be broken. But when it is twisted together and braided with others, it becomes stronger and resilient. So, too, are our voices.
“Validation doesn’t need words to endorse its existence.”
Clint Smith’s TED talk.
I do not wish to be silent any longer. I don’t want to sit idly by while bathroom bills create more harm than good to my trans friends. I don’t want to quietly watch in horror as the election tears our nation apart. I don’t want to be mute on the DAPL situation as federal and local law agencies desecrate some of the last lands that belong to Native Americans.
Even if “I stand in solidarity with you” seems like not enough, it is.
One voice joins dozens. Dozens of voices become hundreds and multiply to the thousands. Soon we will be too loud to be ignored.
Like the strands of thread, together we are strong. Together we are resilient. Together we cannot break.
But by remaining silent I only allow the harm to continue.
If silence is the residue of fear, then we must scrape away our fears and stand together.
I don’t want to be silent.
I don’t want to be afraid.
I want to be strong. I want to be together. I want to be resilient.