“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”
It is easy to jump right past this first line of Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata, if for no other reason than there are so many nuggets that follow which grab the attention. Still, it is worth pausing to ponder that first line. It is, indeed, easy to get caught up in “the noise and haste,” to want to react or respond, either in kind or to ratchet it up a notch. That in large part describes the antagonistic discourse that seems to prevalent these days – it is as if one side is intent on out-offending the other, each claiming the moral high ground as they do so.
This is, I think, the point of Ehrmann’s admonition – “remember what peace there may be in silence.” There is, indeed, peace in silence. No, silence is rarely showy, rarely dramatic (though it can be both in its own right) but the exercise of silence certainly tamps down the “noise and haste” – if only on one side. Silence provides a gap in which emotions can subside. Silence provides a crack through which reason might enter. And you can, or course, resort to bombastic drivel there after if the silence thing doesn’t work.