Sunday, April 12, 2009

When Silence Speaks Louder than Words.......

Eldest brother and many other friends were quite surprised that I write almost everyday in my blog. They were even more surprised when I told them that I spend about 15 to 20 minutes to write most articles, and maybe 60 minutes if I were to write on topics that are associated with political affairs which fortunately, are very few. I prefer to pen my thoughts on social happenings. Of course, it helps that I have learnt and mastered Pittman's Typing Skills.

Brother was right to remind me to be careful with my writing. Words are precious. Sometimes silence is golden and in fact, silence sometimes speaks louder than words! I remember a few times, my ex-students from ACS (Independent) had told me, "Madam, we are worried when you are very quiet. Your silence is more frightening than your words!" The students were clever. They knew from their experience, that when I was very quiet, I was suppressing my annoyance or anger. I did not like to say out words of harshness or unkind and disparaging remarks in a fit of anger. Words which would make me regret later. I had been a student myself, and can still remember some of the cutting words made by some of my teachers in primary and secondary school, and even in the university!

Only once I had walked out of my class, for I was about to explode! I calmed myself by walking to the library in another block and back to the staffroom. The class monitor later came to look for me with a petition signed by the students, promising they would be better students. Only later, did I explain to the students and made them understand more about their undesirable behaviour which was not conducive for a teacher to give her best in the classroom.

Recently we read of how Professor Sun Dongdong's comments, published in a March issue of China Newsweek, had triggered outrage among petitioners, who routinely flocked to Beijing after their local governments had ignored them. 30 protesters had tried to force their way into China's elite Peking University to confront Professor Sun who had said that 99 per cent of persistent petitioners to the government are mentally ill and should be institutionalised.

Sometimes, some of us try to instill laughter by creating jokes. Perhaps the best way is to narrate some jokes that have been proven to be really funny. These jokes could be our own experience or memorised from joke books, internet, etc. These jokes must be appropriate to the listeners and be shared at appropriate times. It is better not to poke fun at the people who are in our circle of listeners. It is bad taste to make a joke out of someone's looks or physique. Always remember that people cannot help looking the way they are. Who does not wish to look like Mr. or Miss Universe? We should be thankful that we do not have abnormalities and have been blessed with a good mind to think cleverly. How many careless criticisms of someone's fatness or overweight have caused many a young teenager to become anorexic or bulimic?

If we give edifying comments, it is alright to say them loud and clear, but if our comments do not help to build up someone, then it is better to say them in private to the person concerned. Do not just criticise, but criticise constructively. Self-disparaging jokes are quite safe for most listeners usually warm up and feel comfortable with a person who can laugh at himself.

Making people laugh is not an easy skill. This is why humorous speech contests are quite challenging. I dislike it when some toastmasters shared stories about their wives and they carelessly put their wives down in a bid to draw laughter! So far, the best humorous speech I have heard is by a toastmaster from Thailand, Damrong Watanaluck. He truly deserved to be the 1st runner up in the District 80 Humorous Speech Contest in 2008. Damrong was witty when he shared about his relationship with his wife, and you could detect the thread of love and honour for his wife which made his speech humorous yet refined.

Papa had always reminded us to be slower to talk for words that have been spoken are difficult to be erased from the memory of listeners. Let us learn not to be afraid of silence. Strangely, I find that the older I get, the less I like to talk. Somehow I prefer to write or type my thoughts, for I can always read and re-read or erase and improve on what I have written. Perhaps this is why The Oriental Express was born 41 months ago. May God bless this Choo Choo train, so that readers too can be blessed by The Oriental Express as it goes chugging down the tracks.

Gan Chau

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