Silence Is Golden
Do you remember the expression silence is golden? Most people have heard it but many do not realize they were cheated. Silence is golden is only half of that adage. The complete saying is this: Speech is silver, but silence is golden. The idea seems to be that, given a choice, instead of speaking, it may be better to say nothing at all. This fits with the implied silence of another wise counsel: it takes two to argue!
Now, where does this leave the “speech is silver” mouthpiece? We must admit that people who are silver-tongued are eloquent. When they speak, we listen. When they speak, we are moved by their words. And because their speech is strong enough to change our behavior, they have an obligation to be honest. Overall, great speeches can be more powerful than great guns. If you'll forgive this twist on the feed and fishing pole truism: To persuade folks for a day, put rifles in their heads. To persuade folks for a lifetime, put rhetoric in their hearts.
Christian Speech or Christian Silence
So, which is better for the truly honest Christian? Should we speak up or shut up? Should we be bellicose and boisterous when we want changes to come about? Or should we mount a peaceful protest until change becomes the logical choice?
American Baptist minister and civil rights leader, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that anyone who didn't have something worth dying for didn't deserve to live. Yet his own demeanor was far more silent than violent.
Should we be the squeaky wheel about injustices until the oil of righteousness corrects those wrongdoings? Or should we remain stoically convinced that God sees all and that, in the end, He will render a just judgment for everyone concerned? Which tact has more power? Which stance is more apt to get the job done? Should our Christian faith prompt us to be loud or, with child-like confidence, should we be seen but not heard?
Back of the Bus
I was 7 when my family moved from northern Pennsylvania to the deep South. Because the price of gas was too high, we had to take public transportation. I can distinctly recall the bus driver reminding the elderly black woman who boarded ahead of me that she was to sit in the back of the bus. Twenty years later my persuasion professor said it took more than words to change thoughts of prejudice. He said until it became illegal for bus drivers to tell people where they could sit, attitudes towards blacks would remain the same. In that instance, it was behavior change, or silence, that brought about the attitude change against discrimination.
Let's set aside a special day to take public transportation on a bus and deliberately sit in the rear. As people enter and exit, recall how, not so long ago, seats in this vehicle were assigned by skin color, not by choice. Does this thought leave us speechless or single-mindedly determined to say something if we see something that's wrong?
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