Silence speaks volumes

2012-12-11 07:55

I was astounded when a friend of mine recently said to me that being vocal these days is not a good idea because it always comes back to bite you in your behind. Sufficient to say it's not always a good idea to be a loudmouth but I refute the notion that being silent is the only alternative to that.

I am not advocating that everyone starts shouting their mouths off for no apparent reason but I do believe that being vocal about something you believe in is better than being silent because you scared of the ramifications of speaking out. It's better to say something and be criticised for it than to shut it and appear to be as neutral as Kgalema Motlanthe (if he is).

Let’s consider a few things....

There is a time for everything (even the bible agrees) and what that says is people should all voice their opinions when they want to get a point across. As long as you not shooting you mouth off as if you’re giving Julius Malema a run for his money. Always be factual, rational and be prepared to defend and support your views no matter what those opposed to them throw at you.

Knowing when to shut up and being a coward are two different things. I have always maintained that it is better to stand up for your beliefs rather than accommodate everyone else because one fear’s of being judged on what you have to say.

Here is something to ponder over for a second. If Nelson Mandela had opted to be quiet and not stand up against racial oppression for most of his life, where would we be? If Steve Biko had taken a simple mining job and obeyed apartheid laws instead of founding a movement that challenged people of colour to not see themselves inferior to others, where would SA be?

If Martin Luther King Junior didn't have a "dream" maybe his assassination wouldn't have been a reality. Mother Theresa, John F Kennedy, Desmond Tutu, Olivier Tambo and Anne Frank to name a few may all have considered being silent when things were ‘tough’ but chose to vocally express their views because it was the right thing to do.

Consider if these above mentioned prominent figures in history, had they all been silent about the atrocities they witnessed during their times, what kind of world would have turned out for this generation?

I recently attended a youth dialogue focused on social justice and I realised after the session that today's youth has a responsibility to not only be social commentators on issues that affect them but as the cliché goes “to be the change they want to see.”

We all have a voice...

Up until a few weeks ago Kgalema Motlanthe must have thought it was a good strategy for him to remain mum about his presidential ambitions (assuming that he had any) but that plan that has all but backfired on him looking at the branch nominations ahead of the Mangaung conference which takes place in a week’s time.

Not only did he seem hesitant if wanted to lead the ANC but to those observing from the outside it appears as though he is worried of making his position known because he doesn’t want to step on some members of the ruling party's toes. This is how silence is this scenario defeats the purpose in my book.

This also paves the way for politicians to start thinking that the introductions of “insult laws” to protect the president are a necessity. Ministers would get away with NOT delivering textbooks to schools on time because no one is willing to say anything about it. The Protection of Information Bill might get passed because public participation was at a minimum.

In a +/-20 year old democracy like ours it’s vital that we as the youth keep our leaders on their toes by being vocal about issues that directly and indirectly affect us. The class of 1976 did it with tragic consequences but that did not deter them from taking a stand against a racial and educational oppressive system.

To borrow from Walter Bishop’s words (Fringe fans will know him) “What’s wrong with the youth of today? We lived in an era where we let our curiosity guide us! Why are they so scared?”

As a society we must be careful of not letting our interest turn into ignorance. There are far more important things than catching the latest episode of (suffocating) Keeping Up with the Kardeshians.

SA has become a country plagued by pessimism, absent leadership, corruption, poverty, inequality and an unemployed youth. These matters are not only for the politicians to pay attention to but for every young person who dreams for a better future.

While being vocal might have consequences, being silent is worse as it seems like a euphemism for saying you have given up. Silence might not make a sound but it definitely speaks volumes.

You can catch me on twitter @BongaDlulane...

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