Thursday, July 14, 2005

Today at noon we observed a two minute silence for the victims of last Thursday's bombings in London. My wife ensured that I stopped tapping my keyboard for the requisite period and we watched the shots of a silent crowd at St Andrews where the Open Golf is being played.

Not long ago the only silence we kept was for the Fallen of the Great War and Second World War. That was after church on Remembrance Sunday. Recently, the silence for the Fallen has moved back to 11am on 11th November as it used to be before I was born. Then, during the hysteria over Diana in 1997 we kept a silence for her. Also, it seems that all sporting events are now required to begin with a silent tribute to whomsoever has died that week. We have had the silence for the terror attacks on New York, Madrid and now London. Finally, there was the three minutes silence for the very many victims of the Asian Tsunami at the start of the year.

There has certainly been silence inflation but the reason for it is not hard to find. Once upon a time, we as a nation, could join together in prayer. The words of the Lord's Prayer were known by all and we could say Amen in assent at the end of whichever words were spoken. Now, to be inclusive, we are silent. In theory, we could still be praying but we do it alone and not together. A corporate silence may still be a powerful thing, especially in today's world of mass distraction. But it still seems to me a poor substitute for a common voice.

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