“Silence like a cancer grows …”

“People talking without speaking,

People hearing without listening,

People writing songs that voices never share

And no one dared

Disturb the sound of silence”


Has a song ever truly gripped you? Where you hear not merely the words but also feel the primitive expression of emotion that so reaches into your soul that it makes you cry? This happened to me the other day, the day coincidentally before the first anniversary of the passing of my once estranged father of over forty years. Throughout the course of the anniversary date, I listened a dozen or more times to the forceful and entrancing cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence by the American heavy metal band – Disturbed. This band is not of my usual musical genre – a discovery of mine via a friend who posted the song on Facebook with the challenge “Try watching this and not feel a shiver”. I took him up on it. If you too are up to the challenge, have a listen …


Like any song, poetry or piece of art, it is up to the individual listening to or seeing the art form to determine for him or herself it’s meaning. This exceptional performance by Disturbed lead singer David Draiman, once a yeshiva boy (religious Jewish student in an institution of bible study) and cantor in-training is an abject dichotomy from American heavy metal supremacy.

To me, this song initially stirred the pain and darkness of a particular silence in my life. And now after playing it over twenty times the stanza quoted above still moves me to tears. Draiman expertly carries the listener through three definitive levels of his beautiful and powerful voice. The introductory segment is soft, melancholy and reflective. The next element is sweet, pleasant-sounding yet he is pleading for something different (see below). In the finale Draiman’s heavy metal voice comes to the fore with overwhelming passion and guttural vigour. I felt I was being lifted up beyond where I was in my despair and towards a future of hope. And while there is no happy ending in the lyrics, my soul becomes energized by the magical sound emanating from Draiman.

For me a song’s lyrics don’t always carry the same weight as the rhythm of the song and the appeal of the singer’s voice – it echoes inside me. To someone of my generation, we know Sound of Silence like few other songs in our collective musical memory. This cover does not change a single word of the original but this is not the same song. And despite the lyrical monotony, Draiman leaves me with hope, anticipation and the self-awareness that I am on the right path.

We all have pain – current or past – in our lives. It is how we deal with it that allows us to continue moving forward with the journey. How do we interpret the song?

“Fools said I, you do not know

Silence like a cancer grows.

Hear my words that I might teach you.

Take my arms that I might reach you.

But my words like silent raindrops fell

And echoed in the wells of silence”


Hope and fear. I hope for a new reality. I fear things won’t change. But I am a fighter and I now have the tools to carry on. Such is life – no guarantees.

We are not all alike … do you think you know me?

So you think you know me? My picture is visible on Facebook and on Twitter and you have made a first impression. You may know my religion and where I am born. You are quite sure of my story, how I got here and what makes me tick.

You think this is about me?

I read a story this weekend in the Globe & Mail on the “Refugee Crisis” – an enlightening analysis comparing the characteristics of refugees in Europe to those who have arrived in Canada. Mark MacKinnon writes:

“Statistics compiled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees show 57 percent of the just over one million people who have arrived … were adult males, versus 17 percent women and 27 percent children … Europe is chaotically receiving the youthful cream of the crop. Canada … is receiving Syria’s poorest and the most vulnerable … often with female heads of households, the men often having died in the war”.

I encourage you to read the article in its entirety. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/what-distinguishes-the-syrians-arriving-in-europe-from-those-incanada/article28614428/

I have to question all those dire prognostications of the European refugee experience happening here in Canada, in particular a repeat of the rampant and nauseating sexual assaults in Cologne Germany on New Years Eve, or the fear of refugee terrorists being settled here in Canada. For the most part the new entrants to Canada have little in common with their European counterparts. So let’s stop making disingenuous comparisons! It reflects poorly on the positive impression we have of ourselves and we are only fooling ourselves as to the type of people we think we are by holding such malicious and deceptive viewpoints.

Ever catch yourself using verbiage such as “those people”, “that religion”, “that race” or “those refugees” with one ever all-encompassing brush that fails to distinguish one individual from another? Why do we do this?

I am an Asian woman from South Africa.

I am a white Jewish male of European ancestry.

I am a gay male from Ecuador.

I am a black female immigrant living in England.

I am a Muslim female working in Guelph Ontario.

Who am I? Care to judge me? How do you know me? Perhaps I shall judge you for the “group” to which you belong and surely there are some bad apples found within your uniquely pristine demographic.

“No one is born with greed, prejudice, bigotry, patriotism and hatred; these are all learned behaviour patters”. Jacque Fresco

As the world continues to shrink and whether we label society as multicultural, multiracial, or even that old idiom of a cultural mosaic, we are living in an increasingly non-monolithic societal environment. More and more people will not look like us, speak like us, eat like us, think like us or pray like us – if they pray at all – so as I often write, the choice is yours. Figure out why hate and or intolerance is a part of your life. And figure it out quickly since there is nowhere to hide to get away from these rapid transformations of what was. But I have fostered a solution in my own life.

Seeking self-awareness is the genesis of our evolution towards the individual we are meant to become. Over the course of our lifetime we have all constructed barriers and obstacles stymieing our human potential. Until we are ready to acknowledge our current limitations based on the negative lessons we have learned and acquired, we will continue raising these walls higher and higher.

Daniel Chidiac said it best:

“Being self-aware is not the absence of mistakes, but the ability to learn and correct them.”