It's a hefty call to ask a person who talks for a living to say nothing for a whole day, but I did get myself into this didn't I?
And anyways, it was for a good cause but I thought I should take the time to:
1. Plug the cause.... again (I know!).
2. Impart some wisdom on what you learn about yourself when you can't talk for a whole day.
Let's start with number one, because let's be honest here... if I jump right into my day of silence without context you might be confused.
So here's the background: Last Monday I was part of a world-wide event run by Invisible Children to raise awareness about the 25-year long war in Uganda and the use of children (YOUNG children) as soldiers.
Ready for a history lesson (or hopefully a refresher)? Cause here it comes... In the 1980s a man name Joseph Kony took over the Holy Spirit Movement, which was run by a woman who claimed the Holy Spirit spoke to her and ordered her to overthrow the Ugandan government for treating her people unjustly. By the hands of Joseph Kony the Holy Spirit Movement became the Lord's Resistance Army or, the LRA. As the LRA lost the support he movement previously had they started abducting children and training them to fight. Now, let's jump forward step. Over the years the presence and violence of the LRA has lead to the displacing of Ugandans from small unprotected villages to refugee camps (with over 1 million refugees still living in camps more than a decade later) and the LRA has been officially been declared a terrorist organization and the International Crime Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of Joseph Kony. Peace talks have been established, but to date Joseph Kony has refused to sign the Final Peace Agreement multiple times. So Ugandans and those on the country's border (DR Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic) are left in uncertainty. So that, is where Invisible Children comes in. Their mandate is three-fold: education, economic development and rehabilitation all in hopes of encouraging peace in the region.
And so, we come back to my motives. What bothers me most about the whole situation is the use of children as pawns. I am so lucky to have had a carefree, love-filled childhood. I think the majority of us were blessed with just that. So I find it appalling that in other places in the world there is such disregard for the right of a child to BE A KID. I will say this though, in Journalism School I remember being told once to be careful what we stand for publicly... journalists are meant to be objective observers (at least in public purview). But I think the two causes that I feel most strongly about - the right for children to be free from war and the right of every person to have access to clean water - are no-brainers. These are not controversial issues, these are common sense. With that said, I also believe it is the responsibility of everyone who is able to choose at least one or two important causes to stand up for. These will be mine. And one of the ways I have chosen to support one of those causes was to join Invisible Children's 25 campaign. It's simple: 25 hours of silence to speak out against 25 years of war.
So, I decided not to talk for a day... not to text.... not to e-mail... twitter... facebook... all of it.
And, to make things all the more difficult I spent all day at the mall so that I could give a info card to anyone who spoke to me (much more public than sitting silently at home not answering my phone).
And so, from my experience I would like to share the five things I learned by not talking:
1. I didn't realize how much I talk and sing to myself on a regular basis
2. When you make a conscious effort not to talk, you also often forget to breathe
3. There is no point in visiting friends for a chat when you can't talk
4. Really amazing friends will call you to chat without expecting you to talk back
5. It's hard not to make conversation with my radio when it's tuned to CBC
Most of all what I learned is how productive it feels to stand up for something that you believe in and speak out... sometimes without speaking.
Here is a link to the Invisible Children website if you want to know more:
And the URL for my 'thank you' video to those who sponsored me:
(music by the lovely and talented Hannah Georgas, "Something For You")