A moment of silence


Yesterday, Reed posted about observing Armistice Day at work, about how she has to go and find a quiet spot in order to observe the 2 minute silence at 11 o’clock.  Once upon a time in the Library of Doom, we would observe this mark of remembrance and respect.  Notices would be posted on the doors advising students that there would be the 2 minutes of silence, and at 11 o’clock, everything would stop.  We would step back from the issue desk if necessary, we would leave the phone unanswered and we, along with the rest of the university and many millions of people beyond, would cease our chatter and activity for 120 seconds.  To say thank you.  To mourn.  To hope for a better future.

Now, in our shiny new building, there is no official observance, so anyone who chooses to remember must do so with some difficulty.  This year, I left my desk and stood on one of the walkways connecting our two wings together.  Last year, I had gone somewhere private, but surely part of the point of the act of remembrance is that it is public, corporate, shared?  Standing there, head bowed, I could not help but be aware of life in the building carrying on regardless.  Movement, conversation, telephones.  At the end of the 2 minutes, as I turned to go back to the office, I caught sight of someone on the ground floor putting his hat back on, making a comment to a friend and moving off.  It seemed he was surprised that the building had not come to a halt.  For my part, I was not surprised, but I did still find it sad.  Sad that we cannot put our important business on hold for just a brief moment to pay our respects.  I may not support every war that our nation has entered in to, but I am deeply thankful for those many men and women who have risked and given their lives over the years, and I long for a world where wars never need be fought again.  If we can’t spare 2 minutes to turn our thoughts to these things, I think it says something very sad about our society.

  1. Exactly and totally I agree with you. I’m a grumpy pacifist atheist, and it’s so important even to the likes of me to take just two teeny minutes to feel that important mixture of sorrow, gratitude and hope. I feel very sad that we have to slope off surreptitiously and HIDE from our students and colleagues to do it.

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