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Silence - The Titfield Thunderbolt
Heisenberg might have stayed here
Well, one of my coworkers rallied the troops at 11:59 to go and stand outside. It wasn't a great showing, but it seemed more meaningful and I felt more comfortable with observing it, than some of the silences that have been more enforced on us at work in recent years (for some reason, the silence following death of the Queen Mother was observed so strictly our sysadmin was practically told to shut down the phone system). I don't live or work in London, but I do visit fairly regularly; unlike New York, Bali or Madrid, which I've never been to. I don't remember anyone asking for a silence when there were bombings in Africa (sometime before 2001).

As a rule I have very mixed feelings about regimented grieving and remembrance. The negative feelings I have about it do not spring from a lack of respect; in fact, rather the reverse - surely if a minute or two of silence is all that is required to perform an obligation to society, it can't be particularly meaningful? I also have a problem with the silence "inflation" that goes on, from one minute, to two minutes, even to five minutes - as if we can measure some worth by the length of time spent without vocal communication. A final thought (which applies particularly to the 11 November remembrance) is that we are remembering those who have fought and died for our freedom. Yet that freedom must by definition include the right to dissent, to disagree, and to observe those occasions in our individual ways. Rituals of death are, objectively, for the benefit of the survivors; it's not always clear to me what purpose there is to a silence, what thoughts we are supposed to collect or how they help society as a whole to move on.

I found George Psaradakis' speech simple yet eloquent.
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strange_complex From: strange_complex Date: July 15th, 2005 08:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I also have a problem with the silence "inflation" that goes on, from one minute, to two minutes, even to five minutes

I've noticed this too, and agree entirely. Once one lot of people have been given two minutes, it seems disrespectful to drop back down to one for another, but the net result is, as you say, continual inflation.

I'm afraid I forgot to observe the silence yesterday, but my sister, who actually lives in London, said she had really valued doing it with her co-workers. She said she hadn't really had time to think properly about what it all meant before the silence yesterday, but was also glad that she was doing so in a controlled manner: limited in time, and with other people participating around her. That meant she didn't get too wrapped up in it, which is something she's been trying not to do as she doesn't want to get neurotic about travelling on the tube and so on. It probably also helped that her boss seems to have had a very liberal attitude towards it: he said that he, personally, would be observing the silence, but that it was entirely up to the office staff what they chose to do.
poliphilo From: poliphilo Date: July 15th, 2005 11:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I have this fear that we're being manipulated.

And when I see Blair heading the national grieving at the head of a group of emergency workers I know we are.
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