A Dangerous Silence

Written by PJ Reece

Who makes up these weekly themes?

And what was she smoking?

The VP of Education dreams up these themes at the beginning of the year. You can imagine what a tough job it must be—I gotta come up with 52 themes by supper time. Yikes!

It’s obviously a mind-bending exercise.

The Toastmaster is the first to get his mind bent out of shape. I say “he” because that was me last night preparing my opening remarks in which I introduce the theme. “A Dangerous Silence”? How did our VP of Ed come up with that one? She must have placed a handful of adjectives in one hat and a bunch of nouns in another hat and picked a pair at random:

Dangerous — Silence.

What seemed at first incongruous quickly took on meaning for me. As in “the calm before the storm.” As in “the eye of the hurricane.” Dangerous silence, indeed.

I recalled advice from the Toastmasters Magazine in which speakers are encouraged to pause before starting to speak. The term is “nesting.” You create a strategic silence. The audience shuts up, they bend an ear toward you. The moment becomes pregnant with possibility.

I recalled a quote by an early African explorer who said: “Nature, only loud when she destroys, is silent when she fashions.”

That’s it, you see—silence qualifies the moment of creation. Anything can happen. There are no guarantees. Dangerous? Absolutely!

I’ve heard of a deadly silence that precedes an earthquake. Birds quit buzzing, crows clam up. It’s not unlike the silence that befalls the meeting room upon hearing the footfall of the Table Topics Master as he or she makes their way to the lectern to inflict their ten minutes of torture.

Okay, so, yes, good—this is material I can deploy during the meeting, I thought. Dangerous Silence is a theme I can run with. In fact, it turned out to be a very successful theme, lending the meeting a unique tone and colour.

And isn’t that the purpose of our weekly theme? If I’m wrong, someone please tell me.

I wonder what next week’s theme is. Let’s see… where’s that hat?

Pick an adjective—explosive. Now pick a noun—molehill.

What fun is that!

You too can be VP of Education and bend people’s minds.

2 thoughts on “A Dangerous Silence

  1. A dangerous Silence indeed. Our present VP Ed is coming up with some doosies. This is one. I think it warrants more than one week. PJ has done a wonderful job of nudging us into new dangerous silence waters and my mind continues to reel from the ‘dangers of silence’. Our world is so full of words that it is easy to miss the silences that are often the calling of nature, the calling of our deepest self, the calling to look below the surface, the superficial, the news, the media, the silence that allows us to be party to the perpetration of the unspeakable. Thank you for this wonderful meeting. I vote for another, continuing look at Dangerous Silence. Thank you Sharon, for this great opportunity to show up beyond the usual.

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