I recently saw and commented on a meme of Facebook which stated that “Staying quiet doesn’t mean that I have nothing to say, it means I don’t think you’re ready to hear my thoughts.” This made me think just a bit about what staying quiet really means to me.
The biggest obstacle to living a life of peace and fulfillment is very often ego. This is not to say that we’re all uncontrolled egomaniacs demanding the world watch us every moment of every day (watch Bravo or E Network for a look at people who live that way). Simply that the concept of humility seems largely lost in the internet age when Twitter and Instagram and yes, Facebook encourage us at every point to share, share, share. We post endless “selfies” and weigh in on every issue we scroll past. The ubiquity of the ‘net makes us feel invulnerable and empowered to put ourselves out there in ways we’d never imagine doing in public. We want to be heard and seen; we feel compelled to contribute and offer our opinion as if it were vital that the world know how we feel.
The Tao Te Ching, that 2500 year old owners manual to the human experience, reiterates time and again the necessity of humility: be like water, it tells us. Water is the softest substance on the earth; it stays low, it is so malleable that you cannot grasp it but only allow it to flow to you. But with patience, it can wear away even the densest stone and the strongest steel. Water is the essence of humility., and yet it is completely essential to life; nothing can live without it.
So, when I read “Staying quiet doesn’t mean that I have nothing to say, it means I don’t think you’re ready to hear my thoughts.”, I immediately “liked” it, but then I paused just a moment to give it a thought. To me, staying quiet doesn’t mean that my thoughts are above or beyond you (a purely ego-based idea), but rather it means that I’m not surrendering to my ego’s need to be heard. I’m allowing humility to win; I’m emulating water and staying low, providing my nourishment to the earth by supplying love and spiritual nourishment wherever I can rather than shouting my every thought from the rooftops and assuming everyone wants/needs to hear it.
I do not mean to say that our voices should not be heard. To even type such an idea would reek of hypocrisy. If I’m passionate about something, as I am about the content of this blog, I can create a platform for it where I can share my thoughts with like-minded people. Here, I may have an opportunity, to touch or help even one person, and I cannot forgo that chance. The internet age has assured that we can all do this, which provides a wonderful opportunity for all the world.
But in public, I remain silent. I decline to impose my opinions upon a world which does not request them of me. Rather I listen, I pray, I meditate, and I send love in every direction. I choose to nourish the world in this way, rather than to poison it with opinion and invective.
I stay quiet.