I’ve come to talk with you again…..
I woke up this morning with Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” in my head where it has stayed all day. The distinct melody drifting through my brain as I noticed that most of the world too was silent.
What has bothered me the most and got me thinking the most… the silence. WHY the silence ?
Silence is dangerous and damning.
My first silence was a common one for women:
When I was around the age of 16, I remember my first encounter with silence. I had agreed to go out with a boy who was a friend of a friend. We went out to a movie, saw a comedy then I got into his car to take me home. I thought I was going home. Instead he tried to force himself on me . I remember slapping him a few times and screaming “I said no!” in a panicked tone complete with red face before he finally stopped. He then called me a dumb bitch and dropped me home. The next day at school was hell.
This boy had spread news of his special version of our “horrible date” making him out to be the victim and me to be the “crazy girl” who yelled at him “for no reason”. Everyone chose to believe him over me. I could have fought it. I could have filed a report. I could have told a lot of people. Instead I felt defeated and ashamed. Instead, I let silence happen. I stopped talking about it , withdrew and fell silent.
I always think back to that time and wonder what would have happened if I had just used my voice. What would have happened if I had taken more of a stance against this man and not let him make me feel ashamed. I could have used my voice.
My second brush with silence was at one of my old jobs:
I was younger and working for a call center. While we weren’t responsible for a sales quota even though I was in sales, we were responsible for practically everything else. Our entire phone call and ” sales pitch” was scripted and our actions were monitored. Big Brother was always watching at this company and tried to actively find ways to write you up especially if you got a bonus. Our bonuses were rare and hard to achieve. This company micromanaged everything we did.
One day they took it too far..
As I was coming in for the dreaded work day I noticed one of my associates was frantic at her desk. She was visibly upset but had to stay on the phone with the customer because if she got off the phone when it wasn’t her ” scheduled break” she would be yelled at by management. When we finally went to lunch she told me what had her bothered.
My associate was an older woman and as such she needed to go to the bathroom a bit more in the day. It wasn’t excessive and she was still able to do her job despite more bathroom trips. In fact, she made sales goal every quarter. I was shocked to find out that today management had written her up and told her that she was not “allowed” to go to the bathroom as much anymore. I remember thinking “seriously? They can’t do that!”.
The next day she got fired.
It wasn’t until later when I told this story to a friend that I found out this very action was illegal to do in the workforce. Even without knowing … I could have and should have spoken up for her. This was not OK. I should have reported it to corporate. I should have fought . Instead of giving any feedback or speaking up. I too quit a month later.
We need to continue to speak up in our lives, our jobs and our country.
We need to continue to speak up to make a better world. We need to continue to speak to make a better tomorrow.
Michael Moore actually said it best when he tweeted :
However this ends, that’s where we begin.
This is not a time to stay silent. Even if the candidate you voted for did not win, this does not mean its the end of using your voice. Don’t let one setback make you feel defeated to silence. Let this time be the fire you need to stand up for what you believe and move mountains.
We can’t be silent. We need to speak . We need to use our voices and move towards a better country.