11 March 2008

The Collective Voice


We live in a society of self-expression, a continuation of the laments of a persecuted society. They fought back with the gift of speech, and through their words, a people were united, and a country was born. Through time, however, the concept of self-expression has been brutalized and mutated by ego and pride, into an addiction. The voice of our forefathers, the voice of reason, hope, change, is now simply, sadly, just the voice—an insatiable beast penetrating deeper into our society each day. And we pave the way. Pamphlets and books and magazines, radio (an entire spectrum) and satellite radio, telephones and cellphones and text messaging, television, The Internet and e-mailing and blogging…blogging…

We cannot all be heard all the time, or even some of the time, if some of the time is at the same time. If we all speak, no one is left to listen. Why are we not content with merely listening, hearing and not being heard? Everyone wants the spotlight, the mic, the podium. Our society is cursed with delusions of importance, of consequence, of substance, stemming from an egotistical desire for affirmation of …what? Being distinct, being special? The uncommonalities that signify the end of something and the beginning of another have us all searching for a voice in this world; for some way to proclaim our uniqueness. We celebrate our differences, believing that without them, we are insignificant; our society recognizes similarity as a stigma. And because of this, we have all convinced ourselves that whatever we have to say is infinitely more important than anything else being said, so we speak, sometimes just for the sake of speaking, afraid that silence will expose the truth without the deceptive blanket of words over our heads. But we fight silence like we fight solitude, neither embracing its retreat nor respecting its opposing harmony with the collective.

Some may claim to be that quiet savior our society so desperately needs. (Don’t be fooled, they are still vain, just sneaky. And don’t try to fool yourself, you will lose eventually.) They might appear to be listening, taking a breath, nodding along. In truth, they are lying to your face, feigning attention to your words, waiting for their turn to speak, and your turn to lie, creating a mystical fabrication of being heard. However, we are also impatient. ‘Waiting’ to be heard has a short life ahead. Soon, the wait will be over, and we will all speak together, separate but equal, voicing our opinions, thoughts, laments, and feelings. We will talk softly at first, but then louder, and louder, hoping to be heard over the roar that is the people of this earth shouting into space as if air itself had ears. But even screaming only adds to the sound of your neighbors, and theirs’ to yours, until, in mid-sentence, the collective voice shatters our ability to hear, and the world goes deaf.

And when again the world holds its breath, whether the next great tragedy or the next divine miracle, when the people have only tears to shed, our cries will go unnoticed, and we will realize that we have lost our ability to hear, and more importantly, the high of being heard. The withdrawal will create chaos—madness will replace reason. We will be a people punished by our own lust for individuality. Abusing speech will have lead to the destruction of hearing—the medium of reason—and the eventual destruction of humanity. And we will have only ourselves to blame.

No comments: