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Silence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging

Regarding my public announcement of the One Day of Blog Silence Event, I want to share a personal story.

A few days before Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) in Israel, I was warned that when I heard the air raid sirens I wasn’t to be afraid. I was to stop whatever I was doing and be quiet and not move for two minutes. My friends told me that all of Israel stops on that day.

I laughed. Getting an Israeli to stand still and shut up is like hoping a penny on the tracks will stop a high speed train. I just couldn’t imagine it. It’s a noisy place filled with too many people shouting loudly all the time just to be heard. Too much energy. This was something I wanted to see, but I didn’t believe I’d see it.

A group pays tribute to the Children’s Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, photograph copyright Lorelle VanFossenThe day arrived and I was out on the streets of downtown Tel Aviv running an errand. I’d forgotten and was startled when the sirens went off. I kept walking for a few seconds until I realized that no one was moving around me.

Nothing. People were standing on the street silent and unmoving. All the cars were stopped and their drivers and passengers were outside, standing next to their vehicles. I froze.

I listened.

Not a sound. Not a shout. Not a honk. Not an engine noise. Not a blaring radio. Silence. No babies crying. No mothers scolding. No shopkeepers shouting their wares. Silence. No airplanes. No motor scooters. No dogs barking. No sound anywhere.

Except the wailing siren.

No movement. No children running around. No dogs wandering. No one gesturing. Nothing. Silence and stillness.

Israel poster - We are With You, American. In honor of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, copyright Lorelle VanFossenNext to me, an old man stood, his face a mass of tired wrinkles, head bowed, tears flowing down his face staining his ragged white t-shirt. A young girl ahead of me had her cell phone in one hand, cigarette in the other, headphones out of her ears, her head lifted up, also crying silent tears.

And the siren wailed on.

I wondered if this was happening all over the country. Over six million people all standing still in this moment listening to the air sirens in their communities. In downtown Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheva, Akko. In the small villages, Arab, Jewish, mixed, and neither. In the settlement towns along the borders. Were they all standing still and silent, too?

Later, my husband told me that he was in the car driving and almost slammed into the guy in front of him who stopped his car on the freeway. He watched everyone get out of their cars a few moments before the sirens went off, heard through the car radio as every station played the air raid sirens. He thought it was a good way to test the air raid system. He got out of the car and joined hundreds of other drivers and cars, standing still and quiet on one of the most busy highways in Israel.

Coffins representing Israelis and Palestinians killed in the start of the current Intifada, 2000, photography copyright Lorelle VanFossenThis couldn’t happen in the United States or Russia, I thought, areas so wide with too many people and multiple time zones. How could you stop all these people in their tracks for two minutes? Wouldn’t happen in the United States, I was sure.

What a way to honor those who died in the Holocaust, and those who survived. Then I realized that I was standing with millions of people who were all thinking the same thought: about the Holocaust.

Scorecard for the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed in the 2000 Intifada, photography copyright Lorelle VanFossenMy eyes filled with tears and the stillness around me blurred. Over six million people all had the same thought at the same time: Never forget. Remember what happened. Remember who died. Remember the loss. Remember the pain. Remember the suffering. Remember so it never happens again.

Then the siren faded off, the ghostly sound still ringing in my ears, quickly replaced by traffic noises, horns honking, radios blaring, children crying, dogs barking, shopkeepers shouting, and cell phones ringing. It was life back to loud normal as I continued to stay still, lost in the moment I just experienced, as Tel Aviv in motion stampeded around me. Life was in full rush again.

Over the next five years, I experienced a profound understanding and personal growth in these two minutes of annual silence. I felt one with everyone in the country, no matter their history, origin or religion. Together, for two minutes, we shared a common thought.

I examined my feelings and position on war, evil, genocide, terrorism, and the killing humans do to each other in the name of gods, money, property, and power. I found an agony in remembering and a peace in realizing that by remembering, we make sure that others did not forget, least we repeat ourselves.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where violence and murder ignored far outweighs killing recognized. We live in a world where people think violence is a form of communication, of getting their message across, though the dead aren’t listening any more, and the killers never were in the first place.

I live in a world desensitized to violence. We praise violent movies and are addicted to violent computer games. We’ve only recently, as a society, thought beating wives and children is a bad thing. It’s been acceptable for thousands of years, and still is in much of the world.

When was the last time you cried over the death of a solider or Iraqi reported in the news? Will you cry over the victims of the Virginia college shooting? Or those killed daily in India over religious and political infighting? Or the Afghanistans still struggling, now partially ignored by the US and a candy factory for the drug lords? Or people living with kidnapping and murder in Central America every day as a way of life? Or the ongoing genocides in Sudan and nearby countries? Any tears spent there? Nah, it’s happening “over there”. And we stay desensitized and disaffected.

Silence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging

What about you? Will you honor the one day of blog silence or use this as a platform to speak out about world victimization and violence?

Why not silence the web for a day, to give yourself time to think and share a united day of thought with the rest of the blogosphere? You may find the experience as powerful as I did mine. I think of the power of the silent protesters led by Martin Luther King and how their refusal to move and refusal to speak put them in jail and changed the world.

A day of silence is a memoriam. It is not a reason to stop blogging. It’s not a reason to stop talking. If anything, preparation before and after the event are the best times to do some serious talking and blogging.

As you debate this issue for your own self, I’d like you to also stop and really think about what you are doing to change the world with your blog. If your blog has brought you some measure of fame and fortune, are you using it in any way to make the world a better place?

If silence will make a statement for you, then what are you doing to speak out before and after the silence to let people know why this moment is so important for you to participate in.

If talking will make a statement for you, what will that statement be? I’d love to have a day where every post on every blog around the world stood on their soap box with solutions for world peace. Maybe someone will run with that.

Will you rant and rave about the forgotten dead and bash the United States for mourning their own? Or will you rant against governments who fail to act to protect their citizens? Or protect the people of other lands? Or pick on the media for ignoring the plight of so many?

Complaining might get you attention, but how about some solutions? Why not offer some answers instead of some whines? Why not share with the world one thing you are doing to make the world better?

I think the remembering is fine, but I’m ready for some doing, too. Aren’t you?

Holocaust survivor Alexander Kimel wrote “I Can Not Forget” in March of 1942:

…Do I want to remember this world upside down?
Where the departed are blessed with an instant death.
While the living condemned to a short wretched life,
And a long tortuous journey into unnamed place,
Converting Living Souls, into ashes and gas.
No. I Have to Remember and Never Let You Forget.

Yesterday, over six million people in Israel stood still for 2 minutes to honor Yom HaShoah. On April 30, 2007, those of us who understand the power of silence will honor all those who needlessly die at the hands of others.

It’s quite the quandary.

We should not stand still while others are being killed. We should stand still to remember so it never happens again.

Note: Andy Beard mentions he knows Steli Efti, the teacher behind OneDayBlogSilence.com. Steli Efti’s reasons behind this memorial are worth reading.

27 Comments

  1. Posted April 17, 2007 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle,

    reading this put tears in my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing your
    story with us. Thank you so much.
    Steli

  2. rod johnson
    Posted April 17, 2007 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    just started blogging this week, just something for friends and my neices and nephews to read. Was just checking out different blogs, came upon this story, it made me real quiet. I was told stories of the Holocaust from uncles in the war. And i cried for a hour when i heard the horrific news from Blackburg. Being silent , yes… and I think i will stop my truck “safely’ and say many of prayers..
    thank you

  3. Posted April 17, 2007 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    These are the sort of stories that you’ll never get to hear from the mainstream press. Thanks for illustrating the human side of the story.

  4. Posted April 17, 2007 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Excellent. Just excellent. I’ll spread the word in my own fashion.

  5. theboinq
    Posted April 17, 2007 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Beautifully written. That’s all I can really say.

  6. Posted April 17, 2007 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    I think there is a good side to this idea, but I do wonder how many Americans (or others) will remember to consider the 1.5 million slaughtered during the Armenian Genocide??

    I think this rememberance idea would be good if it was used to consider all the different trajedies worldwide, that touch us as individuals. This way, the blogosphere would be educated on trajedies beyond what is considered important by the media.

  7. Posted April 17, 2007 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this, Lorelle. I have already committed to the day of silence, but hearing about the two-minute silence in Israel really made an impact.

  8. Posted April 18, 2007 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    Yes Lorelle
    I feel with you and I know about the power of silence.
    To feel ‘silence’ in a street is impossible, to ‘hear’ silence in a city is more than impossible – internet is another medium, there you can’t feel and can’t hear nothing if someone is silent. :(

    kindly regards
    Monika

  9. Posted April 18, 2007 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    I’ve visited your website several times but never knew you were a fellow israeli!!

    Anyway, I’m a relatively new oleh, so when I also heard the siren, I didn’t know what it was. I though it was an air raid warning. When I found out it was in memory of the shoah, I was very upset I had “missed” it. I’ll know better for next year.

    By the way, congrats on a wonderful blog!

  10. Posted April 18, 2007 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, you are wonderful! I hope those who judge and don’t understand the power of silence will read your entry.

  11. Posted April 18, 2007 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    Lorelle. Thank you for sharing this. When I read your post and the comments yesterday, I was unsure whether to do this or not. Reading this post has made my mind up. Spread the word and post the image.

    As something else to think about (blatent self plug coming) have a look (when you have time at the two videos in this post: The Most Powerful Videos on YouTube.

    I heard about them via Raincoaster. They are made by madv (a magicion) and are called the One World Challenge.

    Stopped me in my tracks when I first saw them and I still feel a tear when watching them a week later.

  12. david
    Posted April 18, 2007 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Once again no one dies like a white american. I wont even justify the concept with a caveat. A country that slaughters 33 people each and every day in a gutless war against women and children is beyond contempt.

  13. Posted April 18, 2007 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Thx for sharing your story with us and its very good written.

  14. Posted April 18, 2007 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    And MLK also stated “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

  15. Posted April 18, 2007 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle, two minutes of silence in a bustling country can be an amazing and powerful thing, i agree. an entire day of silence arbitrarily declared over the blogosphere is a very different entity. it’s presumptuous to dictate who speaks and when, for an entire date on the calendar, in a medium where many mark dates of significance and can only use words to do their own honouring or memorializing.

    i know Steli’s idea is well-intentioned. but seriously, declaring that “the blogosphere WILL shut down” is silencing on a pretty grand scale.

    making a stand for change is important. so is healing. some people use their blogs for that, and silence seldom heals grief. i’m really not sure what all this silence is going to offer to the families of those who died at Virginia Tech.

    i think it’s great that many of you will be observing the silence. but i think it ought to have been an invited silence, not an imposed one, with the implication being that anyone who chooses to ignore somehow does not care about peace or doesn’t respect the VT dead.

  16. Posted April 18, 2007 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    When was the last time I cried over human death? I cry all the time. We live in a world full of tragedy. I am insanely fortunate in my life, but many are not. And I do feel it.

    How dare you compare my refusal to be silent with a lack of empathy.

    You said, “If talking will make a statement for you, what will that statement be? I’d love to have a day where every post on every blog around the world stood on their soap box with solutions for world peace. Maybe someone will run with that.”

    I have: Speak Out Against Violence.

  17. Posted April 18, 2007 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Bon: No one is imposing this. This was one school principal’s optional idea. The more who go with it the better.

    Imagine visiting thousands of blogs and seeing a notice of their intent to honor the victims of violence posted on their blogs. That sends a message that people don’t seem to be getting. It’s a huge message.

    And look how much talking is being done about this. Talking that wouldn’t occur if this day of blog silence hadn’t been brought up.

  18. Posted April 18, 2007 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    a day of silence is good, as one can consider and think to speak constructivly the next day and help stop similar atrocities occuring again.

  19. Posted April 18, 2007 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    wonderful post. so true about the other stories out there. did not 186 people die in two blasts in Baghdad today? i barely saw it mentioned in the news in america today. hmmm

  20. Posted April 18, 2007 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    I there was a moment of silence ceremony on 9/14/01 and, I believe, it was a worldwide moment of silence.

    I agree that silence has power.

    I agree, we have to make the world a better place and we have to cry for the people who die.

    However, right now, I want to hear all the words: the words of the people who survived and the words of the loved ones left behind. I want their stories to drown out the story that the media is telling, the one which seems to be only about the person who committed the atrocities and elevates him to a place of near celebrity.

  21. Posted April 19, 2007 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, Steli’s announcement was NOT an invitation. he said “there WILL BE a day of silence across the Blogosphere” and he randomly assigned a date to that silence. i understand that he doesn’t have the power to enforce that imposition, and i think the conversation occurring as a result is fascinating…but his initial act was short-sighted at best, and clearly gave little thought to those of us who might be put in a very uncomfortable position choosing or needing to speak about things unrelated to the tragedy at VT on that date. there was no invitation, just a “we will” blanket statement that was presumptuous at best, however well-intentioned.

  22. Posted April 19, 2007 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    That was a lovely and moving articulation. Thank you.

  23. Posted April 19, 2007 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Is silence golden? Does silence say much? Is this day of blogging silence the best way to honor or remember or mark in some way the VA Tech suffering? Or the depredations in the rest of the world? Or begin or continue to “make a difference?”
    We could argue these and more points until the cows come home and not reach agreement because we (rather, you) are human, which is both part of the joy of humans and your tragedy. Just make your choice and be happy (or at least satified) with it.
    What I, Rrrandy Wurst, will be doing is being silent, Great Spirit willing that I remember. Thanks.
    I’ll be happy with my choice, happy that I have a choice, and happy that I’m alive to TRY to make this life better for
    both animate and inanimate things, as well as for things that don’t seem animate but really are.

  24. Posted April 21, 2007 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    I read this post when you posted it, I didn’t comment at the time but as you made reference to it again in todays post, so I thought I would take the opportunity to say how well written and thought through it was.

    Although not core to your usual subjects it gives a little of you and respect to the issue in hand.

    Any way what I am trying to say is it was an excellent post.

  25. Posted April 21, 2007 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    When I saw the comments on your original post about the silence, I started writing a comment that described exactly what you wrote about above. But then I decided not to submit it because too often I see conversations about Israel, no matter what the subject, turn into ugly diatribes, and I just didn’t want to open that can of worms.

    Thank you for describing Yom Hashoah in Israel so eloquently. This year I was standing on a bustling road in Jerusalem as the sirens went off, and was yet again awed by the silence and respect shown by all. It also reminded me why we are where we are: just think – six million people standing in memory of six million others. I am lucky to be where I am, and the greatest respect we can show the victims is by carrying on and building ourselves up again out of the ashes.

  26. Posted April 26, 2007 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Now I’m quiet…

  27. Posted April 30, 2007 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Lorelle!


32 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Update: Here is my opinion on this event: Silence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging.[...]

  2. [...] on WordPress, I was fairly certain it was something I wanted to participate in. But when she posted this a bit later, I was not only completely convinced, but I also felt it was something everyone should [...]

  3. [...] makes a good point in her opinion article “Silence is a memoriam, not a reason to stop blogging”. Only for the sake of remembering, should we stop doing what we do for a minute. Only so we should [...]

  4. [...] Except the wailing siren. [CONTINUE READING] [...]

  5. [...] And that’s as far as it went till a few minutes ago when I read Lorelle’s recollection of what happens in Israel for Yom Hashoa – THE ENTIRE COUNTRY STANDS ST… [...]

  6. [...] ein eigenartiges Gefuehl, wenn ich dies lese: I just read this and it put tears in my eyes. Please Read Silence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging  [...]

  7. [...] Lorelle wrote a nice post about this subject that I invite you to read.  Go ahead and click the link.  You won’t be disappointed.  It is a moving post about the power of silence. [...]

  8. [...] and be quiet and not move for two minutes. My friends told me that all of Israel stops on that day…………….  [...]

  9. [...] as to commit suicide after killing so many fellow students and teachers. One such thought is very well expressed here. In the end, it is up to each and every person to decide for themselves what they wish to do, and [...]

  10. [...] l’influente Lorelle qui précise : Silence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging/ le silence est pour le [...]

  11. [...] was alot of discussion on Lorelle’s blog when she wrote about it and she’s also done a follow up. I read through the comments and it seems to me most of the people questioning this believe [...]

  12. [...] announces a plan for a blogging world response to the tragedy in Virginia, and reflects on paying tribute to another tragedy in another part of the [...]

  13. [...] blogs proceed, ASZ will certainly note the day, but we won’t be participating. Why? I think Lorelle explains it fantastically, even though it appears that she will indeed shut down her blogging for the day. Using [...]

  14. [...] Lorelle questions that will you honor the one day of blog silence or use this as a platform to speak out about world victimization and violence? “A day of silence is a memoriam. It is not a reason to stop blogging. It’s not a reason to stop talking. If anything, preparation before and after the event are the best times to do some serious talking and blogging.” [...]

  15. [...] Silence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging by  Lorelle VanFossen. [...]

  16. [...] read a wonderful post on Lorelle this morning about her take on the Day of Silence on April 30th. She tells a beautiful story from [...]

  17. [...] in the blogosphere Monday, April 30. Lorelle VanFossen announced the move and followed up with a moving account of her experience in [...]

  18. [...] Silence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging 19Apr07 A day of silence is a memoriam. It is not a reason to stop blogging. It’s not a reason to stop talking. If anything, preparation before and after the event are the best times to do some serious talking and blogging.[Source: Lorelle VanFossen: Silence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging] [...]

  19. [...] Lorrelle’s story of being in Israel on Holocaust Memorial Day, when the whole country grinds to a halt and what that time means to her. I’ve stood on the [...]

  20. [...] you’re done, go read this post too. It’s a good one. Find Posts related [...]

  21. [...] NOT blog on April 30th in honour of the victims at Virginia Tech, I hope you find Lorelle’s “Silence is a memoriam, not a reason to stop blogging” [...]

  22. [...] has written an eloquent reason for silence and the suggestion that we participate together in a memoriam day of silence. I intend to [...]

  23. [...] Lorelle is being very vocal in her support of this effort, including adding personal stories to back up the call. It is strange how the responses to one entry are predominantly negative, while the responses to the more personal entry are more positive. [...]

  24. [...] LorelleのSilence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging(沈黙は追悼であり、ブログを止め…を訳しました。ライセンスは原文と同じく、CC – 表示 – 非営利 – 継承 2.0です。 [...]

  25. [...] first heard about it, I thought the whole silence thing was a bunch of over-sentimental cheese, but this post by Lorelle made me see the things [...]

  26. On Day Blog Silence

    Unbedingt lesen: Silence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to s.o. Blogging
      Popularity: unranked [?]

    Permanent Link zu diesem Beitrag (mit 16 Wörtern, 1 Bild, geschätzte Zeit zum Lesen: 4 Sek)Share This

  27. [...] I thought was behind the day of blog silence when I first read about it is summed up completely in this post, which I encourage you to read.Remembrance combined with prayer is a positive action of support [...]

  28. [...] their conviction that they are supporting the victims of Virginia Tech. They received support from Lorelle, who wrote a very good entry about the campaign and her own personal conviction about violence, as [...]

  29. [...] Except the wailing siren. [CONTINUE READING] [...]

  30. [...] “silence is not the answer”… Some just share the pain, silently. I agree with Lorelle, “Silence is a Memoriam, not a reason to stop blogging”. Just a united day of [...]

  31. [...] Update 2009-11-09: It seems, at leas today, that the One Day Blog silence is down. I want to direct you to some valuable reading by Lorelle. [...]

  32. […] Silence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging […]

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