Envisioning our silence

After writing yesterday's post on Migrating from silence to voice, I delved back into my fascination with Actor Network Theory (ANT). I realized there were many more ways to frame silence than I had considered in what I wrote. This morning I captured four pages of notes that has taken a long while to distill into something readable by you. Here's the condensation/elaboration of this intersection between ANT and conventional ways of regarding our silence.

Sometimes it seems like our silence is a bad thing to us. We're making a thing of the silence because it seems unchanging and immovable to us. This happens when we get silenced, rather than choosing silence for ourselves. Lots of toxic systems can have this silencing effect on us such as:
  • systems of abuse that insist we keep the abuse a secret from the outside world
  • systems of domination that disregard our voices as unwelcome, invalid or wrong
  • systems of control that require us to only speak when asked to respond to inquiries
  • systems of power which narrate an imposed story of our powerlessness, persecution and inferiority
  • systems of empirical verification that frames our pronouncements as unproven, speculative or hypothetical
  • systems of winner-takes-all competition that intimidate every candidate but one into remaining silent in the end
In these toxic systems, our silence seems like a good thing to those in charge. It's predicted that our voices would be obnoxious, irrational, pitiful or otherwise impossible to hear. We participate in these systems by accepting the silencing effect of the system. We have something to blame for our lack of self expression and authentic voice.

Sometimes our silence seems like a good thing to us. We making a thing of our silence because we don't want to lose it, change it or cut off the benefits from it. This happens when we experience the payoffs of our silence in vibrant systems such as:

  • two way conversations that thrive on careful listening
  • getting more from someone with expertise by showing them respectful silence
  • tuning into the situation to realize what is missing, what can be done and what's overdone that needs some neglect
  • becoming receptive to inspirations and insights that come to a quiet mind and mouth

In these vibrant systems, our silence seems like a good thing to all participants. It's expected our voice will be equally good judging from how we opt for silence on occasion . We participate in these systems by balancing our:

  • silence and voice,
  • interest in others and expressions of self interest
  • respect for others and respect for ourselves
  • listening in conversations and listening in stillness within

In the remaining times, our silence does not seem like a thing at all. Silence is found between things which are relatively insignificant. Silencing is a process of changing, mediating, adapting, reversing and advancing dynamics. Silence transforms excessive communication and expression. Silence brings balance, context, perspective and space to what was isolated, unrelated or objectified. Silence and expression go hand in hand, in reciprocal arrangements of mutual accommodation. Silencing oneself creates the space for others to express themselves until their silencing comes full circle.

Enuf said. Enjoy the silence that follows.

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