The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel. Do you remember the song? “Hello darkness my old friend…. I’ve come to talk with you again. Because a vision softly creeping left it’s seeds while I was sleeping. And the vision that was planted in my brain still remains…”.
What vision has been planted in your brain over the past week?
This song was released in 1964. What was going on that year? People were marching through the streets of New York, Boston, Seattle, and Madison, Wisconsin protesting the Vietnam War. Philadelphia had race riots. Police arrested 800 students at UC Berkley for a peaceful sit-in demonstration. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that any establishments that were open to the public with accommodations must refrain from racial discrimination. And yet, Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore both 19 years old, were tortured and murdered by the KKK.
After all of that, did we learn anything as a nation?
Take a look at what occurred the next year – 1965:
State Troopers were clashing with Civil Rights demonstrators. 3500 US Marines arrived in Vietnam and 35,000 young men were being drafted each month for a war that never should have happened. The Watts Riots began in Los Angeles. The police were clashing with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in Alabama.
That was then – this is now and not much has changed.
The vision planted in my brain this past week is one of a man in a uniform, a “peace officer” entrusted with the obligation to serve and protect. Serve and protect all citizens. Instead, he thrust his knee upon the neck of a man and brutally murdered him in the street with his comrades casually looking on as George Floyd drew his final breath.
What would you have done if you were there?
I wonder…what would I have done if I was there seeing this appalling misuse of force take place right in front of me? Would I have tried to pull the officer off? Would I have spoken up or would my mouth be covered with my hand in horror watching, waiting, hoping…. it would stop?
Personally, I have lived in the sound of silence for most of my life. Many of us have as abused children, tortured young adults, rape victims and really, anyone manipulated by people in leadership positions. If you have ever been in any one of these situations, you know the drill.
Be quiet, never tell, don’t dare speak up, or else…. Or else what? Or else it will be bad for us. Bad like how? Bad like it could get worse than it already is? How crazy is that? So, we… stay… silent…out of fear.
I write to you from a place of feeling ashamed that our nation has also fallen into this pattern. We are told to shut up and sit down – so we do. We obey, but those who are honored with the authority to protect and lead this nation do not obey. They do not recognize nor honor the lives of all citizens.
Unfortunately, we have had a long history of this behavior. The US Asian community suffered when Pearl Harbor was bombed. They were even put into concentration camps on US soil for God’s sake! Our black citizens have been fighting for their lives longer than anyone! I am distraught that our nation has not shed racism and hatred ~ a damaging disease that latches itself onto generation after generation. How is it even possible that the KKK still exists in the land of the free?
Who have we become?
What have we become?
Perhaps the words of the prophets really are written on the subway walls and tenement halls – just like the song tells us. If you can watch what has taken place in this country and still stay silent, I ask you to check your pulse.
Silence does grow like a cancer and if this nation does not choose to detox itself of the mindset of discrimination, we are on the path to self-destruct. If black lives don’t matter, then none of our lives matter.
Silence at this stage of the game does not equal peace.
We must disrupt the sound of silence!
If you are not sure how, watch this video as Jimmy Fallon interviews Jane Elliott.
I encourage you to listen to the song below and ask yourself this:
How dangerous it is for us to stay silent?
I invite you to give a listen to the song: The Sound of Silence