The other day I was walking through the great Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with a friend. We spoke in low voices as if the great art we are looking at could hear us. Standing in front of the painting Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh (French 1853-1890) we were whispering as if the artist could listen. Inspired by a dream this painting is a beautiful, unforgettable work of art. Maybe it has to do with awe and respect, or sometimes with fear or anger but we whisper in positive or negative ways. Listening to a whispering wind, a brook, a tender remark by a lover, by a person we love to respect. Reveling in a moment of great joy or being moved in moments of great sadness... we have many ways to express our feelings and thoughts in whispering tones, which can express happiness, sadness, intimacy or meanness.
The idea for this column came when I observed the events of the last days in our free world. Everyone has seen the more than a Million People March in Paris. It was more than a symbol of democratic freedom and what this liberty stands for. The whole world was watching, friends and foes alike. It was a unifying moment in the fight against evil and assassins. Greatly missed among the leaders of various nations was the American President or a high-level U.S. person known around the world, representing this great vision of Democracy. We are fortunate to live in a free society and have much to be grateful for... we neither need to whisper, nor deny our beliefs.
Ugly gossip in whispers is self-destructive and often leads to painful realizations and broken relationships. Defaming whisperers are all around... they might not say what they think, what they feel or what they are afraid of but speak behind an upheld hand. The thought that we cannot or are not allowed to express our sentiments, our wishes, needs and dreams in a respectful way, forbidden by others who will not share these is a ludicrous and fearful way to live. We are very fortunate to know the difference and are envied around the world for our way of life. We don't believe in bullying and should stop those who do bully... whether in schools, among the young or in corporations and of course in politics. It takes courage to speak up, not just once in a while but persistently with conviction and passion.
If we don't... then who will?
We often stand by and watch, instead of being actively involved; however we feel, we are free to decide to be part of this great world. We are free citizen... especially now when money and its clarion call plays such a vital part and equates success and power. Although power in the wrong hands means also collusion and corruption and destruction. There is nothing wrong with being successful, by studying hard and working hard to provide a good life for ourselves and our loved ones, yet we also are observing the destruction of values we have lived with for centuries. Through events of late we are more aware of it now than ever.
The destructive events of these past days are also a wake-up call for everyone who believes in our democratic way of life... all the good and all the bad it brings with it. Let's not whisper... but shout for a free world so this sound can be heard all over.
On a shining summer morning in the garden
The flowers are whispering and speaking
I however wander silently away
(Heinrich Heine -- German 1797 --1856)<