The sound of silence


    In “La voce della luna”, a film produced in 1990 by Federico Fellini, the protagonist, played by Roberto Benigni, has the capacity to listen to the secret words emanating from inanimate objects. He presents us with a truth “I believe that if we all create some silence, perhaps we will understand”. This is food for thought during this pandemic.

    It is true that we are experiencing a race against time to find ways how to live with what is being called “The new normal”. I believe that in our society, one which is inclined on monetary gain, we have become accustomed to a status quo akin to a rat race. We should be attentive not to run endlessly only to find that we have regressed rather than progressed. Suffice to say that the United Kingdom, financially has found itself in the same situation as 300 years ago! And the United States has suffered a massive financial loss in just three weeks.

    The cloistered nuns are often criticized because they are not materiastically productive. So they are branded as ‘not useful’ to our society. On the contrary, through their prayer in seclusion and their counsels in what is called “the parlatorio”, the time allocated to the general public to visit them, society has benefitted much through their wisdom and determination.

    Agere sequitur esse (one acts according to his “being”), is a Latin maxim which might be helpful to us all. Instead of “being” one can call it “conscience”. This is because, at times, we judge others’ actions as being done without a conscientious justification, casually, almost carelessly. This maxim could guide us into living better, more serenely, in the context of the present worldly havoc which is exacerbating this frenetic race.

    The words of Giovanni Arpino, born in 1927, author of multifaceted writing, at times ironic, at times elegiac, at times psychological, seem to have been prophetical: “One day, when all the world would have motors, and asphalt, and the house and the refrigerator… then everyone should find again his path in the forest, alone”. The pertinence of these words cannot be overstressed.

    Did he mean that we should halt our race and return to be more conscientious? Should we walk on our knees first before we stand up and run? It seems cynical but perhaps it reveals the truth of the situation and will help us to avoid another catastrophic tsunami which has dismantled stability and progress and unleashed chaos and regression. This is exemplified by the concerns expressed by Obama, in his recent meeting with President Trump, when the former told the incumbent President that the situation in the United States was chaotic. Indeed the numbers speak for themselves.

    The lyric “The Sound of Silence”, originally “The Sounds of Silence”, written over several months between 1963 and 1964, has covered decades with reason and sense. This song should not remain a nostalgic melody, but it should arise to enlighten future generations who will be responsible to build the future. According to Saint John Paul II, whose 100 anniversary from his birth we have just celebrated, “Those who look at the future, are those who make history”.

    In silence, one can find one’s true self. One can discover what the renowned German poet Friedrich Holderline (1770-1843) expressed in his writing “Über Religion”: “Man is much more than a machine: he is a spirit, a god in the world; but he is so in a relation with the things that surround him much more vital and superior, than the relation motivated by the only needs”.

    Rev. Dr Joseph Zammit

    Ecclesiastical Judge