Traditionally a moment of silence is observed whenever there is a tragedy. It can be the death of a member of small work group or a major tragedy such as 9/11 or the most recent one in Orlando. At one time they served a purpose. Now they only seem to emphasize the lack of action taken against the now routine random acts of violence plaguing our world. In the news this morning, it was reported how the US Congress erupted in chaos during the usual moment of silence observed in honor of the victims in Orlando. Reportedly it was mostly democrats who were crying, “Enough. Silence is not the answer.”
There is a time for prayer. And this is indeed one of them. But I learned long ago that God expects more than just prayer. He expects us to act, to be his feet, his arms, his eyes, his heart in this broken world. Pray for the strength to stand up to hate, to attack, to the storm. Whatever version of God you subscribe to, it is what God needs from you. And even if you do not believe in a God, you are still a member of the human family and it is what families do for each other. Even when some members of the family do evil, atrocious things.
I was talking with a friend the other night after Orlando happened. He said something about how violent the world has become and how we seem to be getting so calloused to it. For some reason I thought about the 1967 Detroit riots. I was still living in Detroit during that terrible summer. I remember at 16 the fear I felt even though I was fairly safe in my northwest suburban home. I remember watching the news and hugging my mother. The curfew was throughout the metropolitan area. There was a strange silence. I remember going to the end of our drive and looking toward Grand River Ave, one of the main boulevards coming our of downtown. For a moment, I thought I heard the rioters. I didn’t, but it did seem like the end of the world.
Each time there is one of these horrific acts or events, it seems like the end is at hand. I told my friend about the above. After 50 years, it is still a violent, broken world in many ways. Sadly, it is nothing new. Yet there is so much good, so many good people. Thinking about that alone, I remember the words of Edmond Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Silence sometimes is golden. Silence sometimes gives us time to find our inner voice, our core of strength. But silence is not golden when it is used to simply make us feel better and move on.