The Silences

Ralash WhiteDuring the time he spent speaking in Shi’Kahr’s public places, advocating for a change in Vulcan lifestyle, Surak often spoke of respect. It was the one simple courtesy he felt was essential for each Vulcan to master and practice on a daily basis. Without it there could be no emotional control and no peace. Respect was sorely lacking in Vulcan culture during his time, as he demonstrated in this speech given on the steps of the Suta Temple in the year 323. In it, he outlined a code of conduct which became known as The Silences.

“It is always a signal that something is wrong when leaders live by different rules than citizens. In fact, it is the breakdown of society, of all that is civilized. A citizen cannot access the networks without being tracked. Purchases, conversations, messages, information-searches, images, health records, employment records, academic records, criminal records, family records, and property records are captured by data-mining software. The information is sold to the one who makes the highest offer. Credit applications are denied due to political affiliation. Job applicants are turned away because of their genetic predisposition to diseases. Identities, access codes, and bank accounts are stolen. Political opponents contact voters directly and take positions or make promises that are shielded from scrutiny by the public. Students are expelled for criticizing their teachers. Surveillance cameras are installed along borders encouraging anyone to access and monitor illegal crossings. False reports and vigilantism come in waves.

“Yet one cannot learn by accessing the nets what Minister Pola purchased today, what he ate for breakfast, what vaccinations he’s received or what childhood diseases he’s had, what genetic diseases are prevalent in his family, his score on the Academy exit exam, what transportation he uses, what personal interests he has, what his marital status is, when his last pon farr was and if any offspring were produced, what his household income is, or even where his private residence is located. All one sees is a simple file which includes his educational degrees and specialty, his title of office, and his official commcode. No personal information is given.

“This is how it should be – for all of us. Only in the sanctity of privacy can we find peace. The intensity and complexity of life meant to evolve civilization have done the opposite – devolved it – making retreat from the world a necessity for Vulcan sanity and the control of the emotions. Modern technology and business practices, through invasion of privacy and lack of societal regulation, have subjected us to mental distress far greater than any bodily injury. We have lost our right as individuals to be let alone. Once information and images of an individual are on the nets, they can be used against that individual in perpetuity, making it impossible for him or her to leave an old life behind and start a new one. We have lost our integrity and far more. We have lost our soul because we have lost respect for one another.

“Only by leaving others the privacy of their minds and lives can we regain what we have lost. The courts do not protect individuals against the collection and selling of personal information. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the citizen to uphold the right of those around him to be let alone.

“How can we do this? Through the elimination of the incessant noise of life – through The Silences – by allowing each individual privacy in these aspects of life:

Birth:  This is a private journey shared by mother and child. No others should be present except those responsible for their care. The mother should not be distracted from bonding with the child. Announcing the birth on the nets and posting images leaves the child vulnerable.

Home and family life:  The location of one’s home must remain private information to preserve the sanctity of the house as a retreat from the world. While the honor and tradition of guest-right should be maintained, do not expect to be invited to the home of another. When wishing to meet with one whom you do not know, request that the meeting occur in a public place so that you do not intrude upon the individual’s personal sanctuary. Additionally, the individual should be contacted through his or her place of work or study and not at home.

Personal space:  Allow each individual a cushion of space. Do not intrude with your gaze, your voice, or your touch. Remain at a respectful distance, at least one pace away. Establish consent, even with the one to whom you are bonded, before you invade the other’s space. Do not ask another’s name of a third party. Wait for the owner to give it.

Spiritual beliefs:  Allow one the privacy of his or her experience with the being or force responsible for the creation and maintenance of the universe. It is a journey you cannot take and it is not your concern. We each have our own journey to which we must attend.

Thoughts and remembrances:  I have said before that it is the inherent right of all Vulcans to meld in mind and spirit. If you meld, do not invade the thoughts and remembrances of the other. Let the other reveal them to you, if that is his or her wish. Likewise, do not force your thoughts, desires, or memories on the other. Wait for an invitation. And above all else, never enter the other’s mind unbidden.

Time alone:  When you sense that you have come to the limits of your abilities, retreat into your personal sanctuary and conserve energy. Likewise, allow each individual time alone to heal and renew the mind, body, and soul.

Bonding and pon farr:  There are few situations in life that are more sacred than the link between bondmates. When their link is active through a mind-meld, pon farr, the birth of a child, or a more mundane event, no one else in the world matters, and no one should intrude. Even the status of their bonding is a matter only to be shared between the pair, their families, and close friends. And when their bond is severed by death, the survivor should be cared for but left to heal in the privacy of his or her thoughts and memories.

Death:  There is no life event more personal than death. While birth is the experience of two, death can only be experienced by one. It is a solitary journey. Allow those dying privacy. It is the last offer of respect that we can give. Death records, like all medical records, should be sealed, made available only to those who demonstrate a legal or scientific need to know.”

These are The Silences – the quieting of the noise of the Vulcan species.


For those of you who would like to practice reading in Traditional Golic Vulcan, here is the original text:   Ralash-Fam’eslar


29 responses to “The Silences

    • I have heard that given the injunction to honesty given in the Analects, it’s impolite to ask a Vulcan how they are feeling, because they may feel obligated to answer and that would be an invasion of privacy. I try to say “I hope you are well” rather than “how are you”.
    • You make an excellent point. Asking a Vulcan how s/he feels would be considered an invasion of privacy in a casual greeting situation. A Vulcan would only expect such a personal question from a physician or healer as part of the diagnostic process. Expressing a hope that one is well in a greeting situation would be acceptable in Vulcan society.

  1. Excellent writing as usual.

    I wish our society had the Silences. I get quite irked when my privacy is violated. :/ Especially when its phone calls from telemarketer that doesn’t know the word “no”. I don’t mind if a friend asks how I feel, or of my welfare, it shows they care enough to ask. I’m honest in response.

    • We can have the Silences, if we choose — at least some of us. But the choice lies within each of us in choosing how we want to live. And honesty is a huge part of that choice. 😉

      • oSidzhan-

        It’s good to hear from you. Hopefully you are keeping warm and well.

        Onto the Silences,There in lies the challenge. In this society few want to actually BE honest. They have an erroneous view that kindness, honestly and empathy are weaknesses. IF we can have something similar to The Silences, how do we do it without of course, seeming rude? I know some folks ask others’ welfare because they genuinely care and are not being nosy. (That is were disernment comes in.)


      • oT’Mihn —

        It is indeed a huge challenge — to not appear unsocial or rude, as Vulcans are often perceived as being by humans. There are ways of expressing interest or concern without asking personal questions or delving into one’s private life — such as you just did by expressing a hope that I’m keeping warm and healthy since you know I live in the frigid wastelands of the north. (By the way, the wind chill is -16 today, but I have what I need and I’ve managed to stay healthy. Thank you for asking).

        In all of our dealings with people, it’s important to assess each person’s emotional and mental state, and to respond at all times with compassion and grace. That’s no easy task. But if life were easy, there’d really be no point to it, because we wouldn’t learn anything. 😉

        Sochya eh muhl’es.

      • oSidzhan-
        I’m glad you are warm and sufficient power to keep heat on.

        Right now it’s a chilly temperature of 46 degrees Fahrenheit down here — a low of 37. Hmm. I’ll need a nice soft sweater. Possibly a three cat night too.

        Assessing an individual’s mental and emotional state is a tricky one. Sometimes folks are deceptive of that state. That’s why I mentioned the discernment factor. Its not something quantifiable as we know, because its viewing a state not normally seen. If that makes any sense.

        Thank you for the blessings of continued health. 🙂 The same is extended to you. 🙂


    • I am told that some telemarketers are instructed only to relent after three refusals, unfortunately.

  2. I have been aware of severe cold weather Stateside, as well as a general state of lack of privacy. Weather here has been unusually stormy. I have already found this guide to be of help, though I also find humans expect a certain amount of disclosure. I have also found that only saying what is necessary leaves silence that many humans find uncomfortable or impolite.

    • oDhzenn —

      You bring up very good points. I think a good rule or perhaps guideline to use in aiding or not. Does one have the resources, ability and compassion? One merely asks, if the person rejects the aide, at least that person knows their plight was noticed.

      Surak made mention of the need to notice and be compassionate. It is mentioned in one of the Annalects, but I need to locate which. It addresses guest-friend,being neighborly. I believe v’tosh would have known their neighbors, perhaps even viewed some as friends or eextended family. I think it all boils down to using wisdom and discernment on what to tell whom what.

      The key is don’t lose empathy, it keeps us connected to each other. It doesn’t mean we tell all to all people.
      I hope I’m making sense.: )


  3. I agree that these Silences and honesty must go hand in hand. The one will fall without the other.

    I had some questions regarding this writing.
    Birth: I just wished to agree with the thought that children cannot consent to being represented publicly and I find the practice puzzling. However we know that to show a thing makes it normal, while to hide it arouses curiosity and attention. Perhaps what is meant are announcements among those outside the immediate family and friends.

    On Domiscile: I had the most questions about this. Do Vulcans not know or visit and help their neighbours? How is the practice of guest-friendship maintained if a stranger cannot appeal to a host at need? Are we to keep a directory among emergency personnel (and can they be trusted with such disclosure in these troubled times)?
    More broadly, how do we prevent privacy from becoming fear? We must ensure adequate public space in order to have collective experience necessary for mental health. Surak speaks of surveillance but nowhere in Ralashfam’eslar does he prohibit it.

    On Beliefs: While no one is made less equal by their beliefs, we often modify what we think through discussion. Should groups who associate to share their beliefs be prevented from doing so? Or should the subject of belief not be debated where it has entered into public life and affects more than the adherents?

    On Personal space: How is one to know if emergency intervention is necessary? Might we not grow reluctant to intrude physical integrity in those cases where we should?

    Perhaps these matters seem obvious to others and the lack of understanding is mine. Surak says we should be governed by logic. A logical document should clearly articulate these things and we need his guidance in interpreting this document.

    • oDzhenn —

      Regarding your questions…

      Birth: Precisely — what is meant are announcements among those outside the immediate family and friends.

      On Domicile: “Do Vulcans not know or visit and help their neighbours? How is the practice of guest-friendship maintained if a stranger cannot appeal to a host at need?”

      The practice of guest-friendship and meeting up with someone one only knows casually are two separate issues. Surak is saying here that if you wish to meet with someone whom you do not know very well, do not seek that person out at his/her home. Don’t go ring the doorbell. That would be an invasion of privacy. Of course, if one seeks help, a Vulcan should answer the door and give assistance to the caller where possible.

      “How do we prevent privacy from becoming fear?”

      By not letting fear fester in our hearts.

      “Surak speaks of surveillance but nowhere in Ralashfam’eslar does he prohibit it.”

      Surveillance is not prohibited in Vulcan society, but it is only used these days in high-clearance areas. Consider the fact that all Vulcans possess some degree of telepathy and there are other methods of determining the truth in criminal investigations. These methods were not accepted in Surak’s time.

      On Beliefs: “Should groups who associate to share their beliefs be prevented from doing so?”

      No. Such meetings, however, are considered private.

      On Personal space: “How is one to know if emergency intervention is necessary?”

      Again, consider the fact that all Vulcans are telepathic.

      Thank you for your questions and allowing me to perhaps clarify some issues.

  4. Thank you for your responses. However I am left with some more questions.

    Privacy and fear;
    I applaud and agree with the use of discipline, but I think it is more rewarding and educational to spend time engaging others and experiencing their diversity.

    What about where beliefs and conflicts between systems enter into public discourse on behalf of their proponents? They have been made public; how shall they be made private again?

    >Again, consider the fact that all Vulcans are telepathic.

    True, but that is to varying degree. I suppose discreet observation would be in order.

    • You asked, “What about where beliefs and conflicts between systems enter into public discourse….How shall they be made private again?”

      Let me ask this: What do you think would happen to the history of civilization on Earth if, for example, religious institutions never developed as public manifestations; if spirituality and religion remained something to be practiced and cherished privately, either alone or with like-minded individuals in monastic-type settings?

      • With all due respect that doesn’t really answer the question. Really I was arguing for separation of church and state laws, not necessarily against lobbying or protest or such. Perhaps the word ‘public’ was vague.
        I accept that religious organizations on Earth have had a positive role in history keeping alive literacy, important scientific texts and producing improvements on moral code, but I also think we’ve moved past that. These documents themselves put forward a moral code without appealing to the word of the gods, and I think if they did it would be divisive.

  5. That would apop f n interesting thing, but few practice in that faahion. Very good questions. 🙂

    On the statement –“All Vulcans are telepathic. ”

    I know they are empathic in varying decrees of strength, but telepathy was limited by physical contact. Now with the empathic sensitivity, if a lot of anger is abounding,it seems to magnify and spread. People becoming affected, being angry without reason. EI.. “the world went mad during the of Suduc the Mind Lord. ” So I can see why the blood and minds of v’tosh HAD to be cooled, lest the species destroy themselves with unbridled, unreasonable anger and rage because they react without thinking.

    On the area of telepathy,they have to touch you to sense surface thoughts. Anything deeper had to be found by melding, or someone “sending “directly. Some are strong enough to sense thoughts without contact with the target. These folks hopefully, found early and given guidance on how to handle their abilities. These may become Reldai, heaters,investigatits,conselors. All v’tosh have training at very young ages to handle the empathic and telepathic abilities. It is strengthened usually by training. The exception is the telepathic link between Bondmates. There is no distance limitation’s with the Bondmate bond.

    I hope I made a cogent, logical explanation. At times eloquence leaves me floundering unable to bring to what is in my mind.


      • Precisely. 🙂 When I spoke of all Vulcans being telepathic, this is the type of telepathy I was referring to — an empathy that does not need to be seen to be felt; a telepathic empathy.

  6. Pingback: Challenging the Noise | I am Kaden

    • Don’t delete your blog, my friend. Lots of hard work went into that. Facebook, however, is another matter. The world needs to reconsider Facebook, especially when children are involved. The information and photos you post may be set to “private” — for the time-being — but that data is being stored and could potentially be mined (it probably already is).

    • I sincerely wish our culture would learn this. Especially connecting better to empathy for each other. What I have noticed, when in large crowds, if things start becoming tense (or excited in a good way), it seems to ripple through the crowd like a wave. Individual people seem to react to the tension even though it came from somewhere else. They take it in as their own feelings. They — for lack of a better term — feed on it. It seems to infect the group. When queried later on why the reaction, no clear reason is given for the reaction. I think its called crowd psychology.

      I was in a very large crowd of 80,000 people in a stadium. They were being riled up by the individual on the stage. It saw the frenzy ripple from one side to the next. It was fascinating to watch. I felt myself almost get carried away. It took sheer will to remain…uhh…me. I was about to react in a manner that wasn’t normal for me at a stranger’s behest. Something I didn’t find right.

      Is it possible human beings are empathic, maybe even in varying degrees of telepathy but aren’t aware of it? I believe we’re empathic. Many have to learn to recognise that.

      Then again, I might be waaayyy “off the reservation” here. Just a thing I’d observed.

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