As we usher in 2020, there is only one resolution to avoid- silence. For many, the New Year is a time of reflection, of calm deliberation. That’s all fair enough in placid circumstances. In such times- such that they exist-everyone has a right to stop, to think, to consider, to audit the soul. To indulge.

But we must do so quickly because the world is not placid, we are not in peacetime, and the gears keep turning even as we close our blinds to contemplate.

Silence is deadly. We have learned that time and again.

Doctrinal education would not have us understand this. Phrases like “Silence is Golden” are bandied about constantly. Such ideas push us deeply into the “personal” at the expense of the political. We are taught that discovery is a private process, that our equation with anything larger than ourselves is a private matter. New Year’s Resolutions are scarcely different- almost always reflections of indulgence regarding the self and its place in the world. “This year is about me,” exult so many of us. 2020 Must be different.

Take for instance the issues related to anthropogenic climate change. We know we have a few short years to retool the modern economy and modern lifestyles drastically. We know, also, that some of the forces we’ve unleashed are “a done deal” insofar as they are unstoppable. Every day that we don’t at once halt our hydro-carbon based production and simultaneous retool is a day that we collectively abdicate our responsibility to prevent untold suffering. Our children are awake, active, taking up the cudgels. They are begging us to speak, to make noise, to be heard, to stop mortgaging their futures for cheap fantasies. We’ve all been silent for far too long.

What about the 2020 US Presidential Election? Silence always favors the incumbent. No sensible society would have us do anything but debate, discuss, and act in the collective interest of humankind this year; instead most of us will retreat into our normal lives, spending 10 hours “working” in an environment in which silence is not only desired but mandated. No one is fired for silence but thousands are for speaking.

We tend to dismiss stridence as a regrettable characteristic of boorish people. We tend to glorify calmness and serenity. Doctrinal education has us elevating “manners” over morals, politesse over politics.

We tend to find refuge in civility, which we define as polite, non-confrontational conversation; what we imply here, but don’t openly acknowledge, is that this focus steers us into platitudes and not politics. Politics is taboo in polite company. Indeed, the maintenance of salad-fork culture is the focus of our efforts and not the preservation of our planet. In reality, we promote incivility by being civil to the uncivil.

The movement to teach “soft-skills” is very much in keeping with this glorification of silence. Rough edges must be made smooth, zig-zags made straight. Indignation is bad, indoctrination good. Certainly, it is important to develop a language that is understood by those one is trying to move or convince but why must it be the soft language of exoneration?

We cannot afford to exercise soft skills and indulge in silences.

So in 2020 seek not polite company but noise, crude, active people. In 2020 raise your voice and scream until it cracks.

Romi Mahajan in an Author, Marketer, Investor, and Activist


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