I don’t consider myself someone who dwells or can’t let things go and I certainly don’t want to harp on the anniversary of the shootings in Newtown, but something happened on Saturday that so irked me I need to talk it out. The President and First Lady announced that they would be holding a moment of silence and lighting candles in honor of the victims of the Newtown school shootings at 9:30am and I knew that was exactly what I needed. I made sure I was showered and ready to be in front of the tv for 9:30.
I didn’t want to watch a moment sooner because I couldn’t handle the media coverage anymore and was sick and tired of hearing the broadcasters praise themselves for their decision not to be in Newtown on the anniversary. So, here it was, 9:29am and I sat down ready for a moment of silence. I don’t know why I felt the need to join others in this moment, but I did. For me, it felt right. In preparation for this blog I did a little research on the origins of the “moment of silence” and according to wikipedia,
“a moment of silence is often a gesture of respect, particularly in mourning for those who have died recently or as part of a tragic historical event. Silent prayer and worship, including moments of silence practiced during other group activities have been practiced by Quakers for more than 300 years.”
“Since silence contains no statements or assumptions concerning beliefs and requires no understanding of language to interpret, it is more easily accepted and used than a spoken prayer or observance when persons of different religious and cultural backgrounds participate together.”
It’s not surprising that I am drawn to this tradition, as I assume many are. It’s a simple, unassuming way to honor/pray/respect/etc., those we have lost and those they’ve left behind.
And that’s when I heard it, at 9:30, the shutter sound of the cameras. Instantly, I was annoyed. What was that sound? As soon as I realized what it was I assumed it would stop. Someone would have to stop that sound during such a moment of reflection. But it just kept going. While the President and First Lady lit each and every one of the 26 candles the shutter sound kept coming.
My mind was racing. For sure, once the President and First Lady finished lighting the final candle and took their own moment of silence, that incessant noise of the cameras would stop, but again, it didn’t. As the President and First Lady stood to face the candles and observe a moment of silence to respect and honor the lives of those lost, the camera’s continued to take pictures until there were so many at once and it grew so loud that it felt as though the noise chased the Obama’s from the room.
I turned off the tv pissed. I took a deep breath and decided I wouldn’t let that display of disrespect ruin my recognition of the families in Newtown. I thought about the families and their mantra to choose love and I grew calm. I let my anger and frustration go but I just couldn’t let the “moment” go without mention. Why must we capture everything? What are we truly after? And might we find exactly what we need in a moment of silence?
The media was so pleased with themselves for not being in Newtown on Saturday. In my opinion, if your intention in making a decision is true, you shouldn’t need praise. I’m 100% committed to freedom of speech and truly believe that all people should have access to information, but something has got to change because in an effort to ‘sell the story’, they’re missing the point. And in so doing, meaningful dialogue, discussion, and debate is being lost in a whirlwind of soundbite chaos.
I spent the rest of my Saturday reading tributes on facebook, listening to beautiful music, and spending time with loved ones. I wish you all moments of peace and happiness this holiday season…and silence.