Silence

The Beauty of Restraint

Photo Credit: Imgur

Although you may be an unfiltered person, one who holds nothing back, takes no prisoners, add one powerful tool to your arsenal: restraint. Even though it may seem counterintuitive, take some opportunities to exercise restraint when folks will not expect you to filter yourself or remain silent. If something is said, especially if well-planned, orchestrated by one or more individuals, that would normally ignite your metaphorical fire, shock people occasionally by responding to their mean-spirited, intentionally injurious words with silence or a filtered, understated retort. When you’re known for bringing the metaphorical heat, you can keep your opponents dazed and confused by sometimes responding in ways much less vigorous than is typical. Don’t let people easily anticipate you and your response; add some mystery, some deeper nuance, some extra layers to you and your reactions.

Trust me, I understand how difficult this can be. Recently, I was reminded how challenging this is for someone who doesn’t “play no games,” but, after robust reflection, I saw how my restraint confounded my adversaries. Even if your detractors think they have defeated you with their well-designed takedown, one analogous to those Vice President Kamala Harris deftly delivers, withhold your raw response—at least temporarily.

Let them wonder when you will bring the heat to them. I know you’re probably saying, “My enemies will think their comments went over my head.” That’s okay; let them think this. Let them think you’re not as tough as once thought. Wait until the opportune time, especially a time when they are no longer thinking about what they said, and then verbally annihilate them.

To employ this strategy, you must see the beauty of restraint. Restraint doesn’t mean allowing yourself to be slaughtered. Not at all! You’re actually bamboozling and hoodwinking them. They will not discover it until it’s too late.

If you’re not willing to be vulnerable, then this strategy will not work. In fact, you will not even take a necessary leap of faith to employ it.

Take a leap of faith. Strengthen your metaphorical firepower with occasional restraint. Win more battles and wars—win them more decisively.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison            

The Politics of Silence: Defending the Extremely Outspoken Among Us

Most Christians passionately believe “if you be still God will fight your battle.” Of course, this belief emerges from Exodus 14:14. I’m a Christian and I believe in this scripture too. I don’t, however, think that this scripture means that one cannot offer his or her opinions on everything at any moment. For me, the scripture does not have anything to with being silent, but has everything to do with trusting in God to solve those matters that are beyond one’s ability to solve on his or her own. My life is an open book.

I never hesitate to express my viewpoints on anything—no matter where I’m situated. I’m never fearful about sharing anything with anybody in any place about myself, except for information that may be a personal or family security risk. I’m not going to share my Social Security number and my mother’s Social Security number with you in this piece. I know you were just waiting for me to give out those numbers.

We’re all unique human beings. I’m a person who elects not to be silent on anything. People who have something to say about everything in any place should not be viewed in any more negative light than people who choose to be silent all the time, most of the time, or some of the time. What’s so virtuous about keeping your mouth closed? Of course, people are going to present all types of hypotheticals and real-life cases where speaking out caused people great harm and even death. My dominant response to those hypotheticals and real-life cases is you have to speak up for yourself—even if it costs you everything.

Lovers of truth are not afraid of the consequences of truthful expressions. Using your voice is one of the strongest ways to stand up for yourself and to articulate who you really are.

While it may sound all cute and sophisticated to say that silence can speak volumes, silence does not say anything in reality. Silence is silence. Silence communicates silence. What are you saying when you keep your mouth closed? Nothing!

I know I’m in the minority on this issue, but I have to stay true to who I am. I’m a person who will not hold back anything.

It’s my desire for a space in the American and global imagination to be engendered where extremely outspoken people like me are viewed as no more flawed than those who elect to employ silence at some level. I really would like to know what makes “quiet people” more virtuous than those of us who are extremely outspoken? Those “quiet people’s” silence could be the very reason why they may be getting pressed so small. While you sit there and say nothing (and perhaps even nod your head and smile) you could be taking unnecessary attacks that could be circumvented by simply speaking out—open your closed mouth!

To my fellow Christians, faith without works is dead!

I contend that this politics of silence is a way to rein in those of us who are extremely outspoken. I believe this is a massive attempt to make people like me more docile.

Now, when there are times when you just don’t want to speak, that’s personally fine with me. It’s fine with me because you are not doing it to give honor to the politics of silence—you’re doing it because you simply don’t want to say anything right then. You’re not trying to pretend that your silence is communicating anything other than you just don’t want to say anything.

I just don’t want people trying to think that a general proclivity to exercising silence and/or to being perceived as a “quiet person” is a powerful virtue.

I’m a tremendously successful person and my outspokenness has gained me an overwhelming amount more than it has cost me. In fact, the things that my outspokenness has cost me are not even things that are important.

Again, as I’ve previously stated, I know that the views expressed in this piece will not only be in the minority in America but also across the globe. These thoughts emerge from various people, including my parents, often telling me that I need to learn to keep my mouth closed. During the times that I did keep my mouth closed, I was steamrolled and lost things that I could have had if I would have said what I had to say. Many of my enemies could have already been defeated if I would have spoken instead of exercising silence. Certain people would not have been able to get away with things if I would have spoken instead of being silent. Many people would not have misunderstandings about me if I would have elected to speak instead of being silent.

Yes, I’ve tried employing silence often but it has never worked out too well for me. I’ll continue being extremely outspoken because I’ve experienced great success and happiness this way.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison