Keeping Quiet

A PhD teaching assistant shared, "actually, I remember you."

"Huh, why? I'm fairly low profile in school." My eyebrows knitted in a mild bewilderment. My goal was to live and pass away, hopefully with minimal damage on the natural environment and in the most anonymous manner. How did I manage to be remembered without me knowing?

"Well, you answered my questions."

"Huh?" The eyebrows drew tighter.

"You know, I find that Singaporeans tend not to speak up when I ask them easy questions. Too easy, no one bothers. Then, hoping to prompt some responses, I will make questions more difficult and -"

"And no one responds anyway." I sighed.

Why is it so difficult for people to speak up? Are they conditioned by the environment, unthinkingly responding to the systemic incentives and disincentives? Do they trust that others will answer for them and defend their unsaid wishes?

Don't they realise that it's by being accepting, non-confrontational and quiet that the status quo is maintained and the society fails to move forward? Perhaps even retrogress. The banality of evil, as Hannah Arendt suggests.

It is depressing to hear vibrant thoughts in the private sphere, ones that will never be aired in the public.

Classroom radicals. Armchair critics. Why not air these thoughts out in the public so that honest debates may occur? Why keep quiet?