The Coyne'r'Butch Christmas Letter 2012
Hi, Everyone! It's another Christmas letter from Coyne'r'Butch.
We Still Here?
Well, in all likelihood you aren't reading this. After all, the world ended four days before Christmas, on the 21st, didn't it? Or was it three days before Christmas, on the 22nd? What? You are reading this?
Oh well, that just means we get to wait around for the world to "go off the fiscal cliff" next year...
There's just no shortage of doomsayers is there?
I've had a lot of trouble coming up with something to say this year. It was a real relief, and a great joy, to realize I could make fun of doomsayers. Particularly those dumb enough to think the Mayans went to the trouble to align their calendar to the end of the world, so that the end would fall on 22.214.171.124.0—or was it just at the very end of day on 126.96.36.199.19? Or is it actually at the beginning of 188.8.131.52.1?
Does anyone remember similar predictions for the year 2000 A.D.?
Our doomsayers seem mostly to have an an infatuation with big round numbers, like the Mayan 184.108.40.206.0, or 2000 A.D.. As Scott Adam's Dogbert character said, "I'm telling everyone the world will end in year 2000. My logic is that 2000 is a big round number. It's b-i-i-i-g and r-o-o-und!"
Oh, yes, they throw in an occasional infatuation with a big space rock, piles of discs, Hopi prophecy, Bible codes, or planet alignments; for kicks. But mostly, it's big round numbers.
Me, polishing my head on the new head polisher they installed at my office for Christmas. (Otherwise known as garland.)
I can't say it's exciting...
The kitties? Well, unfortunately, it hasn't been such a good year for them. If you've followed my blog, you know that I had to put down four of them. Sad. (Yes, I cried.)
And Amy was just sick, very sick, but she is recovering. But she's never been well, not since she had her first bout with feline leukemia when she was little. I'm afraid one of these days she'll have to go as well.
Otherwise, I'm well. I hope you are, too.
I decided to talk about silence this year. Here's a few quotes to start:
One of the greatest sounds of them all - and to me it is a sound - is utter, complete silence.
- Andre Kostelanetz
You can never get silence anywhere nowadays, have you noticed?
- Bryan Ferry
Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.
- Jean Arp
We live in a world that, more and more, despises silence. Probably one of my greatest peeves in this regard is a local park. Parks are places you go to rest, to be quiet, right? This park is filled with speakers, playing music continuously. Speakers that eliminate that rest, that quiet.
There's nowhere here in Florida where you can get true silence, in terms of the absence of human sound. Even in remote places, miles from other humans, there is always an airplane or a roaring boat in earshot. (Or even, believe it or not, a helicopter! On the pad. Being tested by the farmer!) The silence implied by the quotes below, doesn't exist here:
When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with it fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze.
- Thomas Carlyle
True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.
- William Penn
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.
- Mother Teresa
The silence of rest, the world—humanity—despises. But there is another kind of silence that much of the worst of humanity loves:
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations.
- Aldous Huxley
Silence used against humanity, silence withheld from humanity. Whichever happens offer the greatest hurt at any given moment. Whether it is to keep us from resting, or to keep us from resisting intolerance and cruelty.
We should not allow silence to be used as a weapon against us, in either sense.
Of course absence of sound is the silence everyone thinks of: It's the most restful, the most easily recognized. The most easily destroyed.
It has taken me a very long time, but I think I've learned the secret of the restful silence. It's not just an absence of sound, though that helps. It is an absence, a separation, from the intrusion of humanity. It's a joy taken from those little things that humanity doesn't shape to its own desires. There's silence in...
So many people try hard to squeeze it out, but it always sneaks in, if only you look for it. Sometimes better people bring it in on purpose. What will you see tomorrow, that sneaked in despite some human intention to squeeze it out?
And then there's the other aspect of silence: The one that allows bad people to do bad things while good people remain silent. We've had more than enough of that these last few years. It is time, and past, to speak up. Remember:
Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.
No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.
Search for the first kind of silence, for peace for your soul; you'll find it in the little aha zones and things that ignore humanity, hidden away everywhere. Take a moment to reflect on how acorns—or snowflakes—can fall and be immune to human concerns; as important as we think they are.
And for the other? Take a moment to speak out against an injustice, no matter how small. Our society creates many injustices, but if we each take on one...well, even if they don't go away, they will be fewer.
Peace on Earth and Good Will toward men. Those are the secret.
Peaceful, Silence-Filled, and Happy New Year.