Silence As A Language In Martin Luther King Jr.

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“We spend so much time listening to the things people are saying that we rarely pay attention to the things they don’t” (Smith 2014). Silence is a language that any person on this planet can understand. It invades awkward, but critical conversations and tricks the mind into not speaking. Silence, itself, is a rhetorical situation that every encounters, whether within themselves or with a million other people because it prevents the truth from coming out. Bitzer states that the rhetorical situation is “a complex of persons, events, objects, and relations presenting an actual or potential exigence which can be completely or partially removed if discourse, introduced into the situation, can so constrain human decision or action as to bring about the significant modification of the exigence”, while bringing in the characteristics of exigence, audience, and constraint (Bitzer 1968). I understand the rhetorical situation as a problem that is spoken about by one or more persons, often with the goal to solve it; however, to discuss the problem with the right people, gives way to positively changing the situation. In the problem of silence, there is exigence, audience and constraint in the urgency for silence to be broken, the ability to apply to all, and a constraint within our minds and the thoughts of others. In his speech, Smith begins by quoting Martin Luther King Jr. from a speech given during the Civil Rights Movement. The quote states, “In the end, we will remember not the
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