Monthly Archives: November 2016

Monkey no speak


Without speaking, Pepe is saying a lot. 

It’s funny when you get laryngitis. People around you stop talking too.

It’s as if imitation is the highest form of communication. You talk a lot, I talk a lot. You stay silent, I stay silent. We are the same.

It happens within cultures that are highly oral, or highly symbolic, or highly ritualistic. People imitate what they see and hear, from generation to generation. We act the same to show we are the same.

When someone stops talking, there’s a disruption in the system. We all stop, because something is amiss. We just can’t be different.

It’s some kind of instinct—perhaps sympathetic, or perhaps cautious. Does difference mean weakness, or danger?

When I got laryngitis this week, I tried to switch into an improvised sign language. But it wasn’t taken well. People could not understand it, so I gave up quickly. I tried to force myself to talk, but it hurt.

In my mind, I was telling others: “Go ahead and talk. Have a conversation with yourself, out loud, without asking me questions. I can hear perfectly. I can nod my head.”

But I could only think these thoughts, not say them. There was no choice; all I could do was listen and try to use body language. I became still.

It made me realize: Words are important, because they get repeated. Monkey hear, monkey repeat. Words of love inspires more words of love. Hate inspires hate.

Actions get repeated too. Somehow it’s all very reflexive, and unconscious, and there’s truth to the saying of “money see, monkey do.” A choice to do something is also a choice for others to repeat it.

Now that I’m starting to talk again, I hope to recognize and leverage the power of the voice. It travels far beyond the ears that hear it, and it gets repeated again and again. Words and actions reverberate in ways we can never understand.

Everything we do has an echo.

Decency is Dead. There’s a Casket for That.

img_3693Donald Trump has the foulest mouth and the dirtiest mind of anyone elected president.

Decency is dead.

Since his election, protesters have been chanting “Fu** Trump.”

Decency is dead.

At least the anger of the protesters makes sense. They are so shocked and so angry that they are seeking the most violent words possible. Violent words are less harmful than violent actions.

For me, the only reaction right now that makes sense is No Words. A Blackout on social media, #NoWords. Silence and Mourning. No arguing, no explanations, no justifications. No Words.

Obviously I’m breaking my own rule by writing these words right now. I want to get beyond the period of mourning, the wake of silence, and find a voice. You have to start somewhere. But my gut reaction for now remains No Words.

“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.” No Words.

“The next president of the United States of America is…” No Words.

“Mommy, what’s an immigrant?” No Words.

Someday soon I’ll find some words to place on my black sign. I’m waiting until they can be decent.

Action Number One

On Veteran’s Day, I rode my bike into central Washington, D.C. and walked around with my black sign with No Words. I tried to hear what the great presidents and the great monuments were trying to say. They gave me No Words.

I kept walking.

Sitting outside the new Trump International Hotel, just two blocks from the White House, I still felt too heavy to speak. But I did find an action.

I took my black sign with No Words and I walked around the hotel. In the back I found a construction area with a large dumpster. I took a photo of my sign, and then I tossed it into the dumpster.

I dumped my silence, my shock, my lack of words into one of Donald Trump’s very own trash cans. Now he owns it.

Trump will have to pay to have it removed. It’s the decent thing to do.