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Is it Better to Speak or to Die?

by Isabel Contreras

“To speak means to risk the danger of misunderstanding, but to die means to never know if someone would have understood.”

It’s such a redundant concept: Is it better to speak or to die? From the first time that I heard this, my brain immediately knew that the answer was to speak. Probably because I am the kind of person who knows the value of words. Everyone’s life is centered around words because without them, everything is seemingly meaningless. Where’s the reward in getting that promotion if there’s no one to come home to who will tell you congratulations? It’s impressive that the feeble sounds that jump from people's mouths hold such weight. They bring validation, hope, critique, and an impossible array of further emotions. While actions do speak louder than words, without our voices we are floating aimlessly. Everyone works to hear those few sentences they long for; whether it's an “I’m proud of you, son” from a father or an “I love you too” from that special person, we all cannot exist without them.

When I came across these eight words in particular, I wondered who in their right mind would ask this. What prompted such an idiotic idea, and even worse, why would anyone chose to die? Nevertheless, the thought haunted me, and that in itself is exactly what the quote was meant to do. You should question if it’s even worth it to speak. If you tell the whole world how you feel, what will it say back? Oftentimes, it's not the answer we want. Think about Galileo. He knew that the Earth revolved around the sun and instead of believing him, the world locked him in his house. He chose to speak, but was handed back death. So, why should you speak? Why should you run to the train station in the rain with flowers to stop that girl? Or why should you tell that bully in your class to shut up? Who will even care, besides the lucky girl who didn’t run away from her problems, or the gentle quiet kid who just needed a friend? Perhaps your friends will feel proud when they give their toasts at your wedding, or maybe your parents’ smiles will shine with love when they hear that you helped someone in need. Or, at the very least, consider yourself. Would you not feel the tiniest bit happy that you finally did something?

And no, I have not forgotten the alternative. What happens if she leaves anyway? Or what happens if the bully hits you in the face instead? But the way that I see it, you have to consider the reality where you said nothing. You let her leave, you let that kid’s self-esteem crumble; because at the end of the day you owed the world nothing. She chose to leave and that kid chose not to stand up for themself. So who has the right to guilt you into speaking? No one, except for yourself. Therefore, you can choose to die. You can choose to let the fire of your own voice flicker out, to let the world swallow you whole. That's exactly the point: you have to fight to raise the volume of your voice. You have to deal with the reality that you may not accomplish anything, and you live with the embarrassment because it's a thousand times easier than living with the guilt.


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