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“Silence is golden . . . ” sang the Four Seasons on the B-side of their hit single, “Rag Doll,” released in 1964, the same year that the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The song is early 60’s rock ‘n roll; so naturally, it’s a love song. I’ve never remembered the verses, but those three words in the chorus have always stuck with me. I agree that silence is golden — sometimes. Silence is golden after I’ve been to a loud event with hundreds or thousands of people . . .

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World Series in New York City, 1911. Courtesy Library of Congress.

. . . or when I’ve been in a restaurant where the music is too loud . . .

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I don’t know that the Buckhorn Exchange Restaurant, started by a scout who rode with Buffalo Bill, is loud, but it is the oldest restaurant in Denver, Colorado. Courtesy Gates Frontiers Fund Colorado Collection within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

. . . or when a bustling day is over.

No, I don't look like this when I'm resting either! Drawing by O'Neill, Rose Cecil, 1874-1944. Courtesy Library of Congress.
No, I don’t look like this at the end of a bustling day either! Drawing by Rose Cecil O’Neill, 1874-1944. Courtesy Library of Congress.

On the other hand, sometimes silence is nowhere close to golden. Four years after the Four Seasons released “Silence is Golden,” Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood published, “I Like to Be Told.”

I agree with Mr. Rogers. Sometimes folks need to open their mouths and say something. Sometimes families get lax about that. They get too busy. They assume others already know. They think others ought to know. They forget.

Of course, families need to forgive when that happens, but it’s also true that we need to pay attention and try to do better. Sometimes we need to say things like:

I’m sorry.

I’ll be late.

Did you hear what happened to ____________? (I know they might have seen it on Facebook, but maybe they didn’t.)

I forgot what you said. Would you mind telling me again?

I love you.

I think you’re wonderful.

I’m thankful for you.

You know, things like that.

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven—
. . . A time to be silent and a time to speak.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,7

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