One of the greatest protest songs ever written is Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.” It first appeared on their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. Over the years, it has served as an anthem for the protestor and the underdog. It has been used to voice discontent and anger at society.
I found it ironic and symbolic that one of the greatest protest songs ever written first appeared on an album titled Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. when you consider what we just found out at around 3 a.m. last Wednesday.
On Wednesday Nov. 9 at around 3 a.m., Donald Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 presidential election. Almost immediately, violence broke out all over the country, numerous reports of violent hate crimes emerged and millions went to bed in tears, uncertain about tomorrow. People are scared and confused.
This is not going to be an article claiming some crazy conspiracy theory or anything like that. This is an article about what Simon & Garfunkel were trying to tell us in 1964.
If you’ve never listened to Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence,” stop reading, listen to it, then come back.
The song follows a man talking to darkness about a dream he had. In the dream, his “eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light / that split the night / and touched the sound of silence.” He basically saw an explosion in the sky, a terrible disaster. It’s an event that would have caused a lot of destruction and pain.
The explosion then revealed to the man “ten thousand people, maybe more / people talking without speaking / people hearing without listening.” He saw a crowd of people just standing by, watching the explosion take place. The crowd did not “ dare / disturb the sound of silence.” No one dared to speak out.
The man screams, “‘Fools’ said I, “You do not know / silence like a cancer grows.”’ He is warning the people against complacency and the failure to act. The man offers himself to the people, begging that they “take my arms that I might reach you.” But it did no good, the people just sat in silence.
Then, more alarming: “and the people bowed and prayed / to the neon god they made.” Instead of fighting the destruction, the crowed decided to submit and bow down to it.
I found myself increasingly drawn to this song the last few days, listening to it on loop and mouthing the words to myself. It became a prayer, a religious and sacred act.
The last few days have many of us staring into the darkness wondering what happened. What went wrong? The election of Donald Trump, our explosion in the sky, is a terrifying, tragic, uncertain event in our nation’s history. That is what makes “The Sounds of Silence” so relevant.
We cannot allow ourselves to bow down to the destruction in the sky. We cannot sit here and wait for the next four years to be over. We need to fight with everything we have to preserve our values and beliefs as a country. We cannot allow ourselves to regress and let all our hard work be undone by a selfish, unfit man.
If we do nothing, if we let people be terrorized in the streets based on what they look like, or who they love, or what God they pray to, we bow down to the destruction. We need to come together peacefully and fight for the world we want to live in.
The neon light cannot destroy all the progress we have made; it cannot shock us into submission and complacency. Destruction and fear are no god.
Do not stay silent. We must raise our voices as one people, united against hate. The Sounds of Silence shall not descend upon us.
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Karsun Designs on Flickr.
Sara Karlovitch is a freshman journalism and government and politics major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.