In Praise of Silence

Think before opening your mouth


In Praise of Silence
by Asghar_Massombagi

There is a long standing tradition of voluntary silence in religious orders the world over. Silence is golden, so goes the saying; it teaches self-discipline and forces the individual to think and reflect. It’s believed that silence stimulates other senses that are often dulled by the ego’s eagerness to shoot its mouth so to speak. There are orders of trappist monks who spend their days singing hymns and reciting prayers and refrain from casual conversation except when given permission by their superiors. There are orders of nuns who having taken a vow of silence communicate mostly in a special sign language. By eliminating the unnecessary, they seek the essential. By looking past the clutter, they search for the “kernel of truth.”

The world of nuns and monks and sufies seems light years away from the one we dabble in - a world surrounded as it were with walls of sound, image and text. But the constant obsession with “communication” seems to mask more often than not a hollow centre. The cellphone chatter on the bus (typical conversation: “I’m on the bus… Just passed 49th… will be there in 5 minutes… I’m getting off the bus now…I can see you by the door… Yeah, that’s me tapping you on the shoulder”), the MP3 player permanently implanted in the ear and complimented by its ever present buzz, the promiscuous typing on the Blackberry keyboard. What is it all about? Why the urge to constantly communicate? Is it an existential angst? The cogito of the telecommunication age, I chatter, therefore I am?

This constant need to sound off is nowhere more evident that on the Internet with its seemingly infinite number of blogs and its free flowing comments, and more comments, and more comments, mostly by semi-literate blowhards on ego trips. The recycled, pre-digested stuff that passes as content creates a deafening echo chamber. Like democracy, on which the early utopian vanguards of the Interner modeled their packet-switched network, the Internet offers an illusion of choice where one often doesn’t exist. Again like democracy where the presupposition is the existence of an informed critical public, the Internet’s great promise is predicated on an informed free agent public.

Don’t get me wrong; having lived under both systems, I can tell you with absolute certainty that democracy under any circumstances is preferable to dictatorship. But I also know, from experience, that one difference between the two systems is that under dictatorship you know you are being screwed so to speak and therefore develop an inherent distrust of the information you receive; whereas under democracy the tentacles of control are not so obvious.

Most of us, the writer here included, do not have direct access to truth. To quote the late Edward Said, perhaps only children and mad people enjoy such a privilege. We all receive the “truth” through veils of interpretation. Information is produced through a complex system of gathering and editing, and is passed through sieves of bias and self-interest. Even scientific truth that is supposedly objective, is predicated on a system of a priori ideas and assumptions.

The context-sensitivity of truth is what should propel us to read, listen and think. Instead the Internet is replete with grandstanding intellectual promiscuity and verbal diarrhea. Like impetuous children, everyone is throwing tantrums and “expressing” themselves not knowing that they are merely so many organ grinder’s monkeys whose strings are being pulled by a small group of ideologues and demagogues.

Perusing through reams of obscenity-laced grandstanding, one can only hope that there is a silent majority that reads discriminately and carefully, and reflects. To put it simply, think before opening your mouth, and if you’re passionate about something and want to let the world know about it then a little wildness in your tone is fine. To quote Keynes, “words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking.” But only after a little thinking.


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by Anonymous54 (not verified) on


Slow Motion

There is warm fire power
In the crowd
In the social gathering
In the partying
In the intermingling
And then there is warm fire power
In being alone
In being in silence
In being in isolation
In being in meditation
In being alone thinking
And if you are locked in the second category
Yet without fire
You then better do something
Even if it means to beg
And spend all your saving money
To join the first category
Or else you will freeze into death in slow motion
In a deep depression

--Professor A. Hassan Danesh

Parsa Pezeshki


by Parsa Pezeshki on

Thanks very much for sharing.


That is all. It was just an incisive and profound article...


The alternative!

by Ajam (not verified) on

Good points dear AM. However, in the face of corporate media's monopoly of the information flow in the "free world," internent has offered an alternative, interactive source of information. This interactivity sometimes comes at a cost, for not everyone adheres to the unwritten rules of engagement --in most parts inadvertantly, I believe! There are those who find forums such as this a vehicle to vent their frustrations, those who use it as a propaganda tool, and those who are under the impression that bulk posts in favour or against a certain political current could actually influence the public opinion in that regard!

There are those who simply like to share a thought -- howerver trivial it may seem, those who just want to see some photographs, listen to a song or swap receipes. And sometimes forums like this function as a support group for those in need of moral support. Yet, among all these "clutters" there still remains the possibilty to find the "kernel of truth," something not easily found in the main stream media!


power of words

by Tahirih on

Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom . Every word is endowed with a spirit, therefore the  speaker or expounder should carefully deliver his words at the appropriate time and place, for the impression which each word maketh is clearly evident and perceptible. One word may be likened unto fire, another unto light, and the influence which both exert is manifest in the world. Therefore an enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk, that the children of men may be nurtured and edified thereby and may attain the ultimate goal of human existence which is the station of true understanding and nobility.  


Very very Impressive Piece.....Hats off to you!

by Miny (not verified) on

Yeah...reflection is too too important...Empty Arguments are a waste...but speaking out has a good effect on heart... i read somewhere those people who dont open up their hearts to their Yaars then their hearts are opened by doctors with Auzaars..:)) i guess....sometimes being sonorous is also good....though i agree with you in general....What are we here in this world conserve our intellectuality and consider others fools and die or live the nature and die....i say let pseudointellectuals also live and flourish...till people are happy its not harmful....anything for that matter!

What about that what they say "Better remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak to confirm it" am i a pseudointellectual or a fool...hahaha...i dont know....

and now that i have spoken to my hearts content i will reflect on what all you have said....


Thanks for this pause.

by Princess on

Couldn't agree with you more. At the same time, I believe not everybody here has Truth as their objective when they post stuff.

I recall people arguing for the entertainment value and interaction with others as the reason they post and comment on this forum. 

Like you, I hope and believe in the silent majority who  "reads discriminately and carefully, and reflects."