There is silence in all of us, in the space between the beats our hearts make, pumping blood throughout our bodies. It is in the oxygen we breathe in, and in the carbon dioxide we release back into the world, our give and take with the earth all around us.
There is the silence we enforce, in 11th grade classrooms where students are taking the test they have been told can make or break their future, and in churches where we are told that God can only visit if we are quiet and listen for him to arrive.
It is in the convents where Monks have vowed never to speak again, the greatest gift they can think to give to their God, and in the voices of parents who realize that all the love in the world cannot reach their children’s hearts when they need it most.
There is the silence we wish we knew how to break, in the words we do not know how to say as much as we wish we had the courage to scream them for everyone to hear, and in the “I love you’s” we wish we could have said just one more time. It is in the voices and hearts of 15-year-old girls who have just realized they are in love with their best friend, a sin in the eyes of their parents, even though fall in love while being wholly yourself is the greatest accomplishment of all.
There is the silence we feel while standing over an open grave, our hearts seemingly covered in the same dirt we are tossing onto the coffin that houses our loved ones, and there is silence when we are losing someone important to us not to death, but to our own stubborn mistakes.
It is in every kiss and in the moments we fall in love, and it is there again when our hearts break and we trade kisses for tears.
In September 2001, the whole world grew silent and held their breath while they waited for America to catch hers; and in May 2011 the world grew silent again when people all over America finally found their voices in the words their President addressed the world with, in the bittersweet victory they had been waiting 10 years for. In the Vietnam War, John McCain and a fellow prisoner of war were punished for the silence they broke between them, trading taps on the wall that separated them from one another.
Silence can serve as the proof we didn’t really want, or as the doubt thrown upon a piece of history we don’t fully understand. Historians use silence to suggest that something does not have enough historical proof, and parents use it to convey disappointment. Prison guards use silence to break the souls of a convicted felon, and soldiers use it to break the faith of an enemy they have taken prisoner.
In some families, the silence is unbearable, a waylay between one conversation and the next; in others, it is a way of life, a family heirloom passed from one generation to the next.
There is silence in all of us. In the same way that water makes up over 50 percent of our bodies, an ocean inside of us all, silence makes up 25 percent of our lives, a cavern of the words we never spoke.