Pink Floyd once said, “For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then, something happened, which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk,” but what if we awoke one day, afraid to speak? What if our pens fell silent, denying words from pouring into ink, and silencing the thoughts that beg to be heard?
The morning air was brisk, and the taste of snow lingered close, telling of the pending winter. White sneakers crunched down along dirt and gravel, and long strides carried one down the road. A small convenience store rose up into view, and the warm aroma of coffee waited to drift out into the cold, luring those passing by to come on in.
The front door slammed shut, and my brother handed me the local newspaper. My first urge was to look at the horoscopes, and then I would move on to the crossword puzzle. But instead, my fingers flipped through the headlines before me, and I knew that something was missing. I retraced my steps, moving once again from front to back, and then it dawned on me. The editorial section was gone.
I wrote it off as a misprint, but the editorial section never reemerged. Headlines waited to be read. Sports raved, and weather outlooks roared. Television listings dictated the hours to come, but despite the ink bleeding my fingers, there was no voice, no opinion to stir thought or spin emotion. There was nothing but silence drifting across small, black words printed against sheets of paper.
Why have we fallen silent? Are we afraid to speak the thoughts begging to be known? Is emotion now denied from expression? Do the pens shake in hand, afraid to be broken? Are words now outlawed, prohibited due to sensitive content? Must we hold to silence, keeping heart and mind behind concrete walls, and denying speech its freedom to be heard?
The greatest debates had been waged in words. Wars and treaties ignited hearts and minds, and lives spun in decision and argument. Declarations and speeches moved the masses, and lyrics pulled the chords to our soul. But if we fall silent, what would become of us?
Are we afraid to talk, to write? Have words become sharp knives, slicing truth and chopping lies? Did suspicion cast its net over thoughts, questioning motives, and denying difference? Are we now too sensitive for the hard, cold facts that need to be told, that could burst our bubble, or would we prefer words only in sugar coating? We will never agree, but we could agree to disagree. We could deny fear from reining us in, sealing our lips, and following the herd, but we are afraid of what goes unsaid.
The truth would set you free, but it remained caged. Dreams empowered imagination, but views clashed with opinion. Words spoke of the trials of youth, but they are still misunderstood. Laws are written through tragedy, but do we really want to know the stories that could break our hearts, tear our lives? Would we prefer the silence, living in oblivion, and forever mute, or could we embrace speech, speak a million words, and write a thousand thoughts? And the pen waits to write.
But still we remain voiceless. The pen was once mightier than the sword, but the weight of fear delivered it a crushing blow. And now we speak in hushed whispers, hoping to not be heard because our words could be turned around and fired back at us. We think in quiet, afraid of our thoughts being known, and fearful of being labeled. We chase the talk of others, tasting their words, but they are not ours. And the writing fades, leaving pools of black ink behind, and we fade with it because we are afraid. But have we forgotten that we would not be who we are today living in this world, if we never learned to talk? Why deny speech its freedom to be heard? Haven’t we reached the point yet, where talk is no longer cheap, and words hold value, change? If you don’t like what I have to say, you have the choice to ignore me, but why deny the choice from ever being made?