During 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