De kracht van stilte

Dit mooie verhaal, uit het oude America van de indianen, over de kracht van stilte wil ik graag even delen.

Ik heb geleerd in mijn opvoeding, op school en op feestjes om in discussie te gaan met anderen, de ander niet uit te laten praten. Nog regelmatig betrap ik mij er op de ander niet uit te laten praten of niet te luisteren naar wat de ander te zeggen heeft, zo ingesleten is dit patroon.

Hoe onbevredigend voelt het als aan het einde van de discussie de kampen nog steeds even ver van elkaar verwijderd zijn en de harten gesloten.

Onderstaande vertelling uit het oude America van de Indianen herinnert mij er aan wat de kracht van stilte is, de kracht van luisteren, de kracht van open staan voor de ander, de kracht van stil durven zijn.

Wij in het algemeen en politici in het bijzonder kunnen hier nog veel van leren.

A Native American Narrative about Silence:

We Indians know about silence. We aren’t afraid of it. In fact, to us it is more powerful than words. Our elders were schooled in the ways of silence, and they passed it along to us. Watch, listen, and then act, they told us. This is the way to live.

With you, it’s just the opposite. You learn by talking. You reward the kids who talk the most in school. At your parties, everyone is trying to talk. In your work, you are always having meetings where everyone interrupts everyone else and everyone talks five, ten, or a hundred times. You say it is working out a problem. To us it just sounds like a bunch of people saying anything that comes into their heads and then trying to make what they say come around to something that makes sense.

Indians have known this for a long time. We like to use it on you. We know that when you are in a room and it is quiet, you get nervous. You have to fill the space with sound. So you talk right away, before you even know what you are going to say.

Our elders told us this was the best way to deal with white people. Be silent until they get nervous, then they will start talking. They will keep talking, and if you stay silent, they will say too much. Then you will be able to see into their hearts and know what they really mean. Then you will know what to do.

[White people] don’t like silence or empty space. They like to argue. They don’t even let each other finish sentences. They are always interrupting, and saying, ‘well, I think…’

To Indians this is very disrespectful and even very stupid. If you start talking, I’m not going to interrupt you. I will listen. Maybe I will stop listening if I don’t like what you are saying. But I won’t interrupt you.

When you are done I will make my decision on what you said, but I won’t tell you if I disagree with you unless it is important. Otherwise I will just be quiet and go away. You have told me what I need to know. There is nothing more to say.

But this isn’t enough for white people. They want me to tell them what I think about what they are thinking, and if they don’t agree with me, they want to talk more and try to convince me.

You don’t convince anyone by arguing. People make their decision in their heart. Talk doesn’t touch my heart.

People should think of their words like seeds. They should plant them, then let them grow in silence. Our old people taught us that the earth is always speaking to us, but that we have to be silent to hear her…

Do you hear the sound of the prairie? That is a great sound. But when I’m talking, I can’t hear it.

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