Can Silence Fuel Violence?

By Sunday Akin Olukoju

Wole Soyinka – author, poet, playwright, professor, and Africa’s first Nobel laureate in literature penned this statement in one his books published in 1972 titled “The Man Died”: “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.”

Any society where very few individuals wantonly display opulence while the rest of the citizenry languish in a condition of total penury is one that sows the seed of violence. Silence in the face of filthy opulence by a few kills the humanity in humankind. It robs any society of its moral values. It defeats the core of the commonwealth. It depicts human beings as cowards and fools.

Any community where most of the people close their eyes to the dirty and despicable acts of fraudulence while displaying a disturbing and deafening silence is a senseless celebration of violence. A society displays fraudulence whenever the system allows the rich alone to access more credit and loan facilities.

A community perpetrates fraudulence whenever exams are set up to benefit a selected group of people. A nation perfects fraudulence whenever the prices of drugs are unaffordable for the average citizen. Fraudulence is displayed when the rules of patent and copyright are designed to scam and swindle the poor masses.

A society promotes fraudulence whenever the rich alone are the only ones that can afford to hire a good defence attorney. Fraudulence is exhibited when the media manipulates the public to buy into a vogue or a way of life without giving the people any option to decide whether to buy in or not.

Any system that compensates indolence while maintaining an ominous silence over wasted lives is condoning violence. Indolence is encouraged when the system refuses to teach the poor how to fish. Indolence is marketed when an able-bodied human being is given a fish but never shown how or where to fish.

Indolence is promoted when a ticket to the bar of flowing booze is always available while no attractive provision was made for a pass to a trade school or a job. Indolence is perfected when avoidable dependence on the system by a potential employee is more attractive than charting a pathway to gainful employment. Indolence is celebrated when people are deceived into believing in easy access to wealth by gambling rather than a deliberate effort to get every able citizen a daily productive duty post.

An atmosphere of violence is declared when leaders who are supposed to be symbols of decency and civility intentionally promote insolence while the moral majority maintain a dead silence. Insolence is now flying around through twitter and Instagram. Insolence has become the style of responding to criticism.

It is now a weapon for attacking opposition. Sadly, children are now celebrating insolence as a way of life. Insolence has become a potent weapon of division and destruction. Unfortunately, the world is gradually buying into the temptation of rebranding insolence as a moral weapon of war. Even those who claimed to be doves, sheep, and lambs are not just getting excited about this new product; it is intoxicating them!

A season of pestilence is unleashed when any society maintains a burial ground silence despite the prevalence of violence through easy access to weapons of mass killing. Pestilence is unleashed when harmless houses of worship become a death-trap. Pestilence is released in full force when the number of homeless people is rising each day.

Pestilence is unchained when domestic violence is instigated by alcoholism and drugs in a society of law and order. Pestilence is discharged each time another working class citizen runs into the food bank for food. Pestilence unchecked is violence unchained!

A society that responds to destructive crises with scorching silence while refusing to promote abstinence in the face of a mass scourge and consuming virulence is only beating the drums of violence and preparing the messages of condolence.

Drums of violence are beaten, and messages of condolence are released each time society only supplies injection needles without creating a pathway for exit for, or treatment of the addicted.

Virulence is promoted each time abstinence is neither patronized nor promoted. Virulence is lifted each time we lower our emphasis on prevention.

Virulence is encouraged any time we sing the lullaby of the freedom people have to engage in anything they like without talking about the physical and physiological consequences of such actions.

Virulence has been installed the moment elections are won not by the good programs and projects politicians promise but by the quantity of dirt a politician is able to dig up against another politician from an opposing party.

Virulence has changed the world to be its own grave-digger and undertaker – and the word ‘opponent’ has now changed to ‘enemy’.

Any approach that prefers a do-nothing silence amid a wrecking turbulence will end up reaping an unavoidable violence. A wrecking turbulence leaves nothing good in its wake.

It flattens fortresses. It destroys domes. It consumes souls. It eliminates monuments and blows away ornaments.

A wrecking turbulence knows no friend and fears no foe. A wrecking turbulence has no master. It has no respect for stable or stubborn structures. It is an enemy of beauty.

It hates life and livelihood. To compound matters, a wrecking turbulence uses silence and surprise. It pounces on its victims at a very short notice like a hungry tiger hunting a deer.

Silence in the face of malevolence is a direct invitation to violence. In an era when an internationally acclaimed politician daily basks in the euphoria of promoting hostility, hate, malice, name-calling, conspiracy theories and exaggeration while the moral majority responds with a suffocating silence, the world may well start a mourning procession.

Today, rhetoric has eaten up reality and truth. Crudity has destroyed civility. Depravity has consumed dignity. Wrong has become right. Stupidity has captured intelligence. Might is now right. T

he guilty is now proclaimed innocent. Ambivalence will gather steam when stoic silence reigns; and with no lion-hearted around to confront the issue, confusion and destruction will begin to reign. As long as the response to this spectacle is dead silence, we can be sure that violence is about to unravel.

However, we can turn things around. Evil cannot overcome good. Darkness can never eclipse the illuminating light. Love can never be soiled, stripped or stopped by hatred. There are still many good people in the world today.

It is time for them to speak up and be damned rather than keep quiet and be doomed. It is time to show benevolence as the antidote to malevolence.

It is time to unravel kindness and goodness. It is time to display meekness. The time to exhibit gentleness and love has come. Peace and joy must reign in the hearts of humankind. These good attributes must penetrate and permeate the fabric of every society. Non-violence must be the watchword of everyone.

Seeking the best interests of local and global neighbors must become our way of life. The prevalence of benevolence will promote excellence while eliminating suffocating silence, turbulence, malevolence, indolence, pestilence, virulence and violence.

(❚ Dr. Sunday Akin Olukoju is the Director of Distance Education of Providence Theological Seminary, a community newspaper correspondent, and the president of a community organization)

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