22 Apr 2013
I don’t really know shit about Quakers. I mean, I grew up in Philadelphia, where Pennsylvania Founder and Quaker William Penn’s statue sits atop City Hall. And I know that from the right angle it looks like he’s got his dick in his hand. And I know that William Penn gave Philadelphia its nickname, The City of Brotherly Love, which is a Quaker thing. I know a ton of people who went to Quaker schools in Philadelphia, and by and large they all turned out pretty good people. I also know a few Quaker adults. And out of respect for them, I want to make sure I’m not trying to pass myself off as an expert on all things Quaker. I am not.
I am also not a big fan of religion. I don’t do God. But I’ve got a thing for Quakers. They do God, but it’s more about how you treat those around you. And they don’t do the church thing, they have Quaker Meetings. And the incredibly great thing about Quaker meetings is that everyone just sits there. Silently. And they talk only if the spirit moves them to talk. They only open their mouths if it improves on the silence.
I’m gonna repeat that phrase because I love it so fucking much: “if it improves on the silence.”
This is a phrase that I’ve been holding near and dear to my heart recently. As the world seems to be falling apart, and social media introduces a new level of cacophony of misinformation, speculation, and downright venomous bile — we should ask ourselves, is what I am about to say better than silence? Am I adding anything to what’s already being said? And possibly most importantly, is my desire to say it keeping me from listening to what is already being said. Because waiting for your turn to talk is not the same as listening.
Have I actually improved the silence?
And the best part is that everyone gets to make this decision for themselves. Do you think your dick joke improves the silence? Awesome, post it. Do you think picking a fight with some racist cracker on Twitter improves the silence? Do you really? Think twice about it. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. It’s your call. But I can tell you that in the last week I’ve probably deleted more tweets, after asking myself that question, than I’ve spiked in the entire preceding year.
So, yes, there will be dick jokes. But only when I decide they’re better than the absence of a dick joke.