The other night my partner and I went OUT ( I know!) to see the glorious Hannah Gadsby at the Brighton Dome. I am going to attempt to paraphrase something she said,
“There are some people who seem to be under the false impression that saying nothing isn’t an option.”
She was, of course, referring to the plethora of opinions and hot-takes on social media that have recently pivoted from matters Covid, to the current conflict in Ukraine.
Before I go any further, I should point out that, utterly bereft of any qualification to comment on the complex geopolitics of the region, my ‘opinion’ is that war – any war – is an appalling offense to our humanity.
Already the conspiracy theorists who were spouting nonsense about the pandemic have started doing the same outrageous mis/disinformation number on Ukraine.
Plus ça change.
But here’s the thing. And I am talking to myself really. Saying nothing really is an option. I am betraying my own assertion by writing this, of course, but this is more of an observation of the tension that I feel, the pressure of our social media landscape in feeling that I have to visibly, vocally, state a position on everything. As if saying something serves in the place of actually doing something, and assuages the social guilt and pressure of saying/doing/thinking the ‘right’ thing, or taking the ‘right’ side.
My grandfather wrote a poem about Remembrance Day, although the same sentiment can be applied here, he said,
…is not about remembering It is being seen remembering, which is not the same, especially when formality sets in, and ceremony rates the display more important than the remembering.
I am sure grandpa will not be too concerned at my segue from his words to words from the Bible. Atheist as he was, he was deeply spiritual and had several versions (and many other religious and philosophical texts) on his bookshelves. These words speak deeply and viscerally into the heart of what I am making my practice right now.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets […] But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.Matthew 6: 2-4
That bit about announcing it with trumpets always cracks me up, because they clearly had the same bullshit going on in first-century Palestine.
As I said Plus ça change.
This is not to discount the importance and power of sharing our collective pain. Seeking solace and comfort in community is deeply important, as is offering out those places of refuge and safety for those who are suffering. We each have our own expression of this, our ways of ‘doing something’. The point is, I suppose, that whatever we are doing, and however we are responding, it is not compulsory to tell everyone.
Saying nothing IS an option.