To the Editor:
The silent majority is a strange concept, as if there is a large group of us tied up and gagged. Of course, we aren’t gagged, we are just too busy or too cautious to voice an opinion. The word “silent” reinforces that – Stay silent and don’t speak out!
In a company town like Saugeen Shores that may seem prudent, but in fact, it’s never a good idea to remain silent about things that matter to us. Which is another strange aspect of the silent majority: why is it that some of us claim to know what the silent majority care about? How is that possible if we haven’t stated our opinion?
Perhaps when someone says, “The silent majority want this, or the silent majority want that”, the person saying it has the gift of clairvoyance, or telepathy, or some other kind of magic. Maybe the person is trying to manipulate the audience, or maybe, when we lump ourselves in with the silent majority, we are trying to bolster our own personal opinions with the imagined support of others because we are afraid of being singled out.
Fear is probably the strangest aspect of the silent majority. We imagine some sort of negative repercussion if we voice an opinion, but really, what is the worst that could happen? We have laws, we have a peaceful society, and we’re one of the wealthiest communities in Canada.
In the broader picture, there is no silent majority. We voice our opinions at parent councils, in service clubs, over coffee, in public meetings, as volunteers … in all sorts of ways we make our thoughts known.
The flip side is also true – at different times, all of us have been silent; if a topic is of no interest, we don’t bother contributing our opinion. Who has the time to care about everything?
So the next time one of us quotes “the silent majority”, let’s not be gullible. Chances are, we are hearing a personal opinion (like this letter, for example). If we don’t have an opinion, fine, let’s be tolerant of those who express their ideas. But if we do have an opinion, let’s not be too busy or too afraid to say what we think, whether that means writing a letter, or speaking aloud to others. If we blindly accept what we’re told, we deserve what we get.