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Silence is Golden

January 12, 2011

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am rarely at a loss for words. But as I prepared to write this week’s post, I must admit I had a hard time thinking what to write about much less what to say. It occurred to me that the trouble was not a lack of suitable and timely topics nor opinions about them. Rather, I lack any certainty that I have anything much worth saying about them at the moment that has not already been said or that would make things much better.

That’s when it struck me that perhaps the biggest news to come out of the week’s grisly events — the shooting in Tucson, the floods in Queensland, the nasty weather afflicting many parts parts of the U.S., the lingering suffering in Haiti a year on from the terrible quake there, and myriad other disasters and threats — was the decision by the new Speaker of the House of Representatives to extend the chamber’s recess rather than convening so soon after the attempted assassination of one of the House’s more moderate and indeed temperate members. In light of the Speaker’s proposed legislative agenda, which sought to take up debate on the repeal of health care reform legislation or limits on funding for key provisions as the first order of business, this was no small concession to sanity or reason.

This legislative issue, among others on the House calendar, holds the promise of laying bare the nation’s deepest wounds and exacerbating deep-seated antipathies at a time when we need nothing so much as comity and civility. The extended recess allows the spotlight to shine where it ought to for the time being: On the national outpouring of sympathy and compassion toward the victims in Tucson.

This brief but blessed respite from the heated rhetoric of the past year reminds me of advice almost every parent once gave their young but which is not heard nearly so often these days: “If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.” I for one am enjoying the relative quiet, and see little need to disturb it any more than I already have with this brief post.

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