I used to be a political science major when I attended college. There are a few reasons why I wanted to go this route because, in the long run, I wanted to be an attorney. I wanted to use my voice to help victims seek justice in the legal system. I thought this was going to be my career for life, until I got silenced in a debate without recourse. I then tried to be a business attorney but I was also silenced when questioned about business. It took me several years later to realize that my silence was not because I was unaware of the subject, it was because I realized I’d rather do something else with my life. If I said anything else, it would make my self-doubt obvious. Every time I opened my mouth in class, I doubted myself. The sentences I would have once spoken with confidence were tinged with doubt and completely devoid of any confidence whatsoever. The statements were all questions and by the time I moved on from choosing that as a career, I was lost. Happy, but lost. Happy because I was finally out from under the responsibility of pretending to love something I truly didn’t. Lost because I didn’t know what I truly wanted to do. People kept asking me what did I want to do with my life and either I would shrug my shoulders in silence or change the subject to something else. Either way, I was determined to say nothing to others (my family members who would be affected are excluded from this) until I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
Recently, I learned of the questioning of Ghazala Khan’s silence during her husband’s speech by a presidential candidate. It seems as if there was an insinuation of her not being allowed to speak due to her religious background. While this blog has never intended to be and will never be a political blog, there is a lesson to be learned from this incident. As she stood beside her husband as he passionately spoke to the public about his religion and why he implores the millions watching the program to vote for the candidate he supports, Ghazala said more than her husband could ever say just by simply being silent. She said she fully supports her husband. She said she is proud of her son, in whose memory and honor they are stepping forward and publicly supporting their candidate. She said that mothers have a voice but when it’s riddled with pain, the tears must speak first. She said that she will speak when her tears are silent and not a moment sooner. She had plenty more to say but her own emotions would not let her say them with words. So she said it all in her silent stance behind her husband. For the opposing presidential candidate, there was little to no attempt to understand the silence; only an attempt to capitalize on a social agenda that is touted and repeated by those who not only lack understanding but also lack the willingness to understand.
Her silent stance brought my memory back to my time in college where I took a silent stance with regards to my future. Now, I am in NO WAYS comparing the two situations because they are miles, light years and instances apart, but I am noticing that silence was used to say what mere words could not. In my case, it spoken of self-doubt, feelings of being a loser, zero confidence and uncertainty. In Ghazala’s case, it spoke of resiliency and strength despite the painful loss of her son. Often times, many people cannot or will not get the silence. We’ve been so conditioned to speak that we forget how to read body language. We forget that the best conversations can be spoken just by eye contact. It seems as if we can no longer see the pain in each other’s eyes because we’ve become so inundated with social media, technology and things that distract us from reconnecting with another person. We’re detached from others and we don’t even know it.
Improvement on silence comes with solutions. It comes with answers. It comes with action. Something must be done when a person speaks. It takes wisdom to know when to speak after being silent. It takes courage to be silent when the world demands to know what you’re thinking, where you’re headed, what you’re doing and more. It takes strength to stand in your conviction to be silent in a world that will set the course for you because they are not convinced you know what you’re doing. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t but one thing is for certain, it’s still your choice and it’s still your action to make. So until you speak to improve the silence, staying silent is essential for your own thoughts and strategies. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
Until next time, if you are silent about an issue in your life, be confident in your silence. Know that it takes courage and commitment to be silent but it proves something else to others who will receive the message: you have inner strength. Not knowing what you’re going to do and choosing to stay silent about it takes guts and I, for one, applaud you for your resiliency. Stay strong. You never know who is watching and gaining strength from you. I know I’ve gained strength by watching Ghazala Khan’s silence.