The Butler’s Approach


I watched Judge Judy last night it was about a young man who keyed a neighbour’s car after they called the police twice on him about noise.  What caught my attention with this episode was the discomfort of his young girlfriend sitting only a few metres away from him.  She was practically in tears, writhing and nearly hyper-ventilating….all due to the fact that she wasn’t given a chance by Judge Judy to express her opinion/information about the case.

Judge Judy
Judge Judy

I went to see the new movie by Lee Daniels: The Butler on Sunday, The story focuses on a man who works as a butler for the White House and his son who is an activist participating in the Freedom Bus, Black Panthers and everything else related to the civil rights movement, each aware of the struggle and choosing different approaches to survive.

The Butler
The Butler

What does Judge Judy and The Butler have to do with one another?

The message I received from the movie and last night’s episode are as follows; a deep breath and abstinence from speaking can sometimes be the better option.

Below is a quote from Martin Luther King about the part that black domestic workers played in the struggle for civil rights.

“Maids, butlers, nannies and other domestics have defied racist stereotypes by being trustworthy, hard-working and loyal in maintaining other people’s households and raising other people’s children, they have gradually broken down hardened and hateful attitudes”.

As I watched this girl on Judge Judy last night, she looked to be in so much pain, unable to say what she wanted to say in that moment and I thought Wow! we live in a world where the ability to say whatever we want, where we want, to whom we want, when we want has caused us to develop physical ailments stemming from the inability to hold our tongue.

Silence was once used as a tool against oppression, you could not accuse someone of having an opinion or choosing a side if they didn’t state it.  This my friends  is the reason that torture devices were invented.  People didn’t talk, they were taught not to say a word.

Nowadays the best torture device is simply not to let someone talk.

Torture Rack
Torture Rack

(Psychology Today) “Valuing silence leads to a deeper connection with ourselves: We live in a culture that values sharing every thought and feeling as it occurs. As a result, we often don’t pause to reflect on what we have just said. This lack of reflection can lead to a superficial connection with ourselves. In contrast, by paying attention to the silence within our conversation and embracing those spaces, we can connect more deeply with ourselves. This deeper connection is the basis of an authentically engaged and self-actualized life”.

Here is the rest of the article by Bob Edelstein if you wish to read it: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/authentic-engagement/201201/the-power-silence

As we comment on our friends’ lives, share in the news of the day and stay connected from morning to night let’s not forget that we have control over our tongues, as children we were taught to hold it or roll it before expressing it and I really think sometimes we should use a #butlersapproach to life.

4 comments

  1. This is an interesting take Gail… I think sometimes it is better if we do think about it and not speak so quickly…

    Sometimes I want to say something to someone… instead, I write it out in a letter… hold it, reread it and usually discard or delete it… Usually I just have to get it out, even if it is to myself… 🙂

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  2. In light of the topic, I should probably NOT comment!

    Seriously, though, I think we have an attitude that silence equals complicity. But I don’t even want an opinion about everything, and some stuff, you have to sit back and watch for a while.

    I am going to try and be quiet more today.

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  3. Silence has it’s part to play in society but it’s also very important to know when to use it. Sometimes silence can give the wrong impression or make the wrong statement and lives can be at stake. And sometimes you can’t interpret a conversation from nothing. A very thought provoking and great topic Gail.

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