As a kid growing up in rural India, I remember people, who worked in our farms, cleaned our streets, and helped the community wherever the help was needed. They belonged to a caste called Bhangi or untouchables. When they came to our house to get grains or food for their consumption, we would throw food in the bowl such that our hands won’t touch even the bowl. Members of that caste kept our streets and our homes clean. They worked in the farms. They helped us everywhere and yet they were treated like that.
Now, decades later in the Toastmaster world as a verbal pause, I feel like an untouchable. We, members of the verbal pause community, do your dirty work. We come to your rescue when even your loved ones refuse. We fill up that uncomfortable space between your sentences. We save you from that malignant silence lurking behind the podium waiting to attack you.
We are omnipresent. We come to your rescue everywhere; in the classrooms, in the board rooms, and in the situation rooms. If there are speakers on other planets or another galaxy, we are there too helping those lonely creatures.
We do not discriminate either; we help both the rich and the poor, females and males, the blacks and the whites. We help the young and the old alike.
We help you even if you speak English, or German, or Spanish, or Hindi or any other language in the world.
We are eternal. We were here before the language began and we will be here if God forbids the language ends for any reason.
Let us also talk about our competitor; the overvalued and over-appreciated the so called silent pause. Let me remind you that silence is death, and sound is life. Haven’t you heard the newborn’s first cry after a protracted labor? On the other hand, I have seen as a pulmonologist the agonizing silence immediately preceding and following a person’s death. We are a much better alternative than that deathly silence.
In summary, all we ask is that you treat us better. When you count us during a speech, please count us with compassion, not with contempt. We urge you to treat us not as those untouchables, but as fellow humans.
Please give equal respect to the spoken words and verbal pauses, because all sounds, just like all humans, are created equal.
All sounds are created equal.