A VOW OF SILENCE
When I was in school, my mother used to fast on every Tuesday. When I asked why, I was told that fasting is good for the body and more so for the soul. At the same time, I was greatly intrigued by the mother of one of my classmate who used to keep Maun Vrat (a vow of silence) on Thursdays. Maun Vrat effectively meant that she would not utter a single word throughout the day. I am not too sure what good it did for her soul, but it sure gave total freedom to my friend to have a total ball on every Thursday. An unbridled soul without any fear of remonstration, he could do whatever he wanted that day. His happiness would however be short-lived and last only for 24 hours as he would get thrashed every Friday for the slightest misdemeanour, thus reinforcing his faith in karmic philosophy.
I could never figure out the concept behind this Thursday-Friday ritual when I was small. Today when I listen and read the amount of cacophony on so many groups, I’m somehow realising the worth of keeping quiet and just listening. In that respect, I have been ruminating on a very fundamental question for quite sometime as to why do humans speak or rather communicate at all. This quest becomes all the more relevant when I see the numerous and supposedly meaningful debates on social media.
At first glance, some of the most plausible reasons that I can think of are:
o To convey, that is to share information/ knowledge/ wisdom with others. But why convey at all? It could be to keep friends and family away from harm’s way. To help improve other people’s lives which in turn would also impact our lives in a given ecosystem. I guess teaching and instructing would therefore fall in the same category. But then, has my own experience been so unique and my awareness levels so high that I need to share it with others so that it will benefit them or make a difference in their lives? In a way, communication does improve survival. But am I so right that I have acquired a universal license to correct others and aid their existence?
o To ask questions to gain information/knowledge/wisdom. This makes sense indeed. But why? Well, it could be to become better informed or enlightened. But why? Is it to become a better human being or to grow higher in hierarchies or earn more in businesses by outwitting others? But why? So that I am happier in my ‘tomorrow avatar’. Well maybe. However, it certainly can’t be to show that how clever I am because I asked an intelligent question. Or more so to convey how dumb the other person is if he is not able to give me a satisfactory explanation or for that matter an answer I want to hear.
o To express love, kindness and appreciation thus promoting goodwill and harmony. A societal and personal need over the ages indeed. Certainly makes sense especially when tempered with noble intentions of helping others.
o To amuse and to titillate have certainly got aggressively added to this list of reasons in recent times.
Tragically, what we have landed up doing while communicating on social media is attempts at manipulation and polarisation. Are we trying to force others in accepting that my view is better than his or her convictions? Or simply put, I am right and you are wrong. If one was not successful as a parent while doing so, do you think ugly debates with equally learned and grown-up friends and acquaintances will take you anywhere. However, looking at some of the unparliamentary responses that we witness on certain forums, we may quite probably land up making enemies out of perfect friends.
The ‘straight-forward’ and ‘fast-forward’ phrases have acquired a different meaning today. I wonder, where have we lost our abilities to think, empathise, to love, to delve deep, philosophise and understand what goes on at each level of our existence? Where has the respect for others, their religion, their views and their paradigms gone? Have we sacrificed our soul in becoming mouthpieces of un-scrupulous politicians and party IT cells who won’t give a damn to switch allegiances if it benefits them? Are we just unsuspecting pawns in big games being played at unimaginable levels of greed and desire to acquire power?
Effective communication was never meant to demean or pull down people and yet we do it. It certainly can’t be to express cynicism, to abuse or call derogatory names and yet we indulge in it. Are we all not right in our own ways and by our own paradigms? Is it not that given our different experiences in life, will our lenses always be different? What I know, I already know. But if I don’t listen to you, how will I ever know what is in your mind? How will I ever get to view a different perspective in this multi-dimensional world?
At the most basic level, we would all like to believe that we are good human beings and well-meaning citizens. Then what is the requirement to portray our mean and not-so-pleasing side and in a way confirm what people suspected all along? A small pause before uttering or writing or forwarding regarding the purpose that would be achieved would go a long way to make this world a better place. Even if I have the diehard compulsion to disagree, can I vow to never be disagreeable? Amen!
Comments are most welcome. With love, Horax (Casper)