LETTER : VE Day: youthful tributes, British war aims and the power of silence

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The Independent Online
From Mr Howard Williams

Sir: Large numbers of Quakers who might have read Paul Vallely's imaginative and wide-ranging article on silence (8 May) will have been surprised to read that the Quakers "made it the centre of their worship", and that "the power of Quaker silence was striking". The surprise is in the use of the past tense, as silence is as much at the centre of Meeting for Worship now as ever it was. Only the funny hats have gone.

Mr Vallely astutely reminded us of the all-pervasive blanket of noise that dogs each 24 hours of our lives, and how addictive it has become. Restlessness is infectious, when it appears as activity, and the over- stimulation of children by media presentations made up of ever shorter image-durations engenders restlessness in its victims. We all know - and the experts are at last admitting - that primary school children now tend to have alarmingly short concentration spans. They need to be allowed to stay in one state of mind for as long as they can, and not to have it constantly curtailed.

But I believe all is not lost. Human beings have such a fundamental need for silence that once we rediscover it for ourselves, we will find the benefits enormous. Our VE Day two minutes came and went in a flash; let's aim for five in 2045!

Yours,

HOWARD WILLIAMS.

London, N10

9 May

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