Question of the Day

Please share your thoughts regarding the quote below. Mine, naturally,  follow below the quote.

“Never, ‘for the sake of peace and quiet,’ deny your own experience or convictions.”
— Dag Hammarskjold

I collect quotes that I find interesting, and share them at random.  Occasionally, as with this one, I find one that sends me into a somewhat different direction.

On the surface, and surely as it was intended, it is a fantastic piece of advice. No matter what pressure we are under, we should never disavow that which we know to be right.

But on a practical level, in real life, perhaps while we may not DENY, we often remain silent. It could be said, and in fact, has, that we should not remain silent either, but..

On a macro level, not remaining silent can jeopardize our safety, and that of our families and friends. Each person has to answer for themselves whether or not silence, which is a form of denial, is the best response for them. No one else can, or should, try to judge. Unless we know the risks involved, we cannot possibly understand the decision.

And on a micro level – we were all raised to avoid controversial conversation with strangers, and sometimes even with our own families. Or on in the slightly larger sphere our communities – do we speak out when we suspect domestic abuse in our families, friends or neighbors? when we witness a stranger hit their child and then drag the screaming child out of a store? animal abuse?

To deny your convictions is never right for a sentient being (but changing your mind after processing new information is growth, not weakness), but is it sometimes better for personal safety, for family harmony, yes, for the sake of ‘peace and quiet’, to bite back the urge to share your convictions, and merely ignore bad behavior, or an ignorant statement, than it is to risk a confrontation?

There are some topics that I feel strongly about, and frequently share my opinion – net neutrality, minimum wage laws, political campaign spending – but to be honest, those do not generate large amounts of heated discussion in my universe. On other topics, though, I admit to using more care. At a very basic, personal level, there are times, there will always be times, when I do hold my tongue. There are people with whom I disagree that I can enjoy (more or less) a discussion with, and there are also those that are simply too volatile to engage. There are people who I work with that I know disagree with me, but that I don’t really think need to know my opinions of some things (part of that ‘time & place for everything’ rule that we also grew up with).

Life requires compromises sometimes. Most times. We should all live our lives in accordance with our principle, and our convictions, but perhaps there really are times when “Silence is golden”. Even though we know that keeping silent can be a form of denial, much as omission is not so different from lying.

And now back to my perpetually behind schedule NaNoWriMo novel.


4 thoughts on “Question of the Day”

  1. I sometimes like to think of it as a “choose your battles” type of situation, where you know that you might be “more right” than the opposing party, but speaking out causes unneeded tension and controversy at a family gathering or out at a party. When it comes to suspecting child abuse or animal abuse then I personally might be more than tempted to say something if I had definitive proof… but I’ve also been in positions where I’ve heard stories of the abuses and could say nothing. It is certainly a painful thing to remain silent sometimes, even if that silence helps save a friendship or a family relationship somehow. Swallowing opinions and convictions can have its pros and cons.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think there are also times when you keep silent to respect another’s point of view. Not everything needs to be an argument. There are things that need someone to stand up and speak out (or many someone’s), but there are things that don’t. Use your own judgement. As you say, there’s a time and place for everything.

    Liked by 1 person

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