The silence of the privileged middle class

Silence of the middle class: a child beggar stands unnoticed by a motorist (Newsday)

When asked why they weren’t joining the #ThisFlag movement one person answered “hamheno ini handina nhamo” (it’s not for me because I have everything I want).

For long that has been our attitude; selfish, self-serving silence. We are fine because the next person’s suffering to us makes no difference. Because we only care for our own well-being. And so we close our doors, our hearts and our mouths and our position is that of silence, as we find comfort in our indifference. We choose silence. A deadly silence that carries with it a heavy cost, with the vulnerable members of society suffering the most. I know we have Photoshopped the picture of hunger, suffering, police brutality and injustice so much that it doesn’t ruin our pretty frame. I know we have filtered the truth to make reality more palatable and our silence justifiable. But no matter how much we turn down the volume ….the truth is undeniable. So I’m here to pump up the volume, because I thought it is about time we heard what our silence sounds like.

The sound of our silence

Our silence sounds like the growling stomach of the forgotten children going to bed every day on empty stomachs. Our indifference sounds like the violent shiver of the naked children living in a cold porous shack through long wet summers and even longer winters. Our aloofness sounds like the cries of a mother, who just lost a child to the weapons of soft genocide that we call hospitals. It sounds like the bitter cries of a marginalised, brutalised and victimised minority whose genocide was simply dismissed as “a moment of madness”. Our silence sounds like the cries of victims of our flawed justice system, like the cracking of bones from the vicious blows of police brutality. It sounds like broken dreams and shattered hopes. It smells like blood and feels like heartache and pain.

A selfish silence

I hope this piece makes us as uncomfortable as our silence is unbearable to those who have to bear the consequence of our indifference. It is about time we stopped believing this fable, that as long as everything is fine with me, then all is well in my country. We should stop feeding the status quo just because there is food on my table.

A call to civic leaders

My plea is also to you pastors and civic leaders called to be the lighthouse that shines at night, a bridge over troubled waters, a shelter in the desert, yet your silence is deafening while the suffering of your flock deepens. Mothers and fathers, called to protect the little ones – not just the fruit your loins, but anybody young enough to be your own. Your silence is deafening, brothers and sisters, called to be each other’s keeper.

On the same boat

Truth be told our silence will catch up with us one way or the other. We are afloat on stormy waters, ill-fated sailors on the same boat. Only that your side of the vessel just hasn’t started sinking yet.

Just as silence only lasts until someone speaks, you are only rich until you are not. You only have a job until you receive the envelope with a dismissal notice. You are only OK until the tables turn. Speak up. Rise up. The future depends on your voice….


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