Why Are We Silent?

Mon, 12/30/2013 - 15:01 -- mhaque


You know that thing that happens

Between a professor posing a question and that

First student raising a reluctant hand

To answer it 


That awkward pause. 

That silence.

Why is it there?

Why are we silent?


And when the same hand rises to answer question

After question 

Why do we punish them?

With social judgements and negative connotations

And the label of 'That Kid'?

Since when was silence good

Since when did we start believeing that silence really is golden?


Humans are born with the voice

A process describing the transfer of air from our lungs

To a voice box that vibrates

Releasing puffs of air into our throat

Into soundwaves that propagate

Across the room.

Complemented by a receiving, hearing

Tympanic membrane

That acts as a drum

Passing sound wave oscillations

Along to the auditory cortex,

Which, in sum

Allows the brain to hear, form a message.


Now, if  believed that for some, 

Strange, biological mutation,

We had lost the sensation

Of Voice and Hearing,

That our voiceboxes had shrunk,

Or our eardrums collapsed.

I would willingly

Raise a bright white flag in surrender

(That we could at least see)

And quietly slip into anonymity.

But we haven't. 

So why do we act like there's some constricting force

That's suffocating our trachea

And squeezing the air out of our lungs,

Why are we silent?


Is it because we've been told we don't have a voice?

That the words we say don't have meaning or power

Is it because we've been told we can't affect what happens

on the South Side of our own city let alone the Horn of Africa?

Is it that we've had it drilled into our heads that

The best we can do is watch events unfold

As America's government shut down

Never mind do anything to stem the bloodshed in Syria?

We've been convinced into believing that these 

psychological gags and earplugs 

Are real.

We've been conditioned to believe that 

Our pharynxes and larynxes are are merely appendages

Of no real use.

Maybe that's  why we're silent.


But who says it has to be that way?

Who is to say that these vocal chords

Can't be amplified

To break free and beyond the the imaginary constraints put upon them?


See, this is how I think of voice.

A single though triggers a release of air


Into a thousand different soundwaves

In a thousand different directions


A thousand different people

Each word you speak,

Requires the efforts, the movements

Of your lips, your tongue, your teeth

And the breath from beneath

Your throat.

So why not make them count?

Be 'That Kid', embrace it!

Wear that title proudly.

Stand up straight

Enunciate, vary your pitch, project!

Because once they hear you speak,

I dare them to object.




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