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  • Betty Girardeau

The Sound of Silence

This may be an odd image to go with this title because we all are probably familiar with the sound of the surf. However, I see it as a silent picture for two reasons. For one thing the camera has been able to stop this moment in time. The waves that are almost crashing on the shore will never do so. Silence. Then think about that old philosophical question "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Yes, there is the gull standing at the shore line, so it "could" hear the surf. Otherwise, this is an empty beach. There are no people there to hear the surf. Silence. I was listening to Simon and Garfunkel tunes the other night during my walk. One of them was "The Sound of Silence." I think the lyrics are very powerful and just as meaningful today as they were at the height of the song's popularity during the mid 1960's, maybe more so. Those years, like now, were also fraught with racial and political tensions. We don't seem to have learned much, if anything, in almost forty years. It seems to me that people are "still talking without speaking". People are still "hearing without listening." And, if anything, there is more of all of this than there used to be because of social media. Both political parties will soon have concluded their 2020 conventions. Already, though, words are beginning to fly thick and fast, and by the election in November, we will have weathered a verbal blizzard. But I suspect that for many who have already made up their minds based more on their emotions than reality, they would have heard only the "sound of silence." The final verse of this song says it all:

"And the people bowed and prayed To the neon god they made And the sign flashed out its warning In the words that it was forming And the sign said: "The words of the prophets are Written on the subway walls And tenement halls And whispered in the sound of silence."

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