Praying or reflecting is optional, being silent is essential

Eliana Gutierrez, In-Depth Editor

Introduced to public schools in 1985, the moment of silence (supposedly) lasts merely 60 seconds.

For one minute students and staff are expected to be respectful of everyone by refraining from speaking.

The wonderful thing about the moment of silence is that it’s optional. Some of us get to take a moment to “pray, meditate, or reflect” as our morning announcers say. For everyone else who doesn’t want to participate, they are permitted to do anything they want except for one obvious thing: talk.

Converting oxygen to carbon dioxide would suffice.

Unfortunately, this is not what typically happens. Routinely, I hear chatter among my classmates and sometimes even the teacher during the moment of silence.

The most absurd interaction I’ve had obstructing my right to pray during the school day stunned me, leaving me at a complete loss for words (pun not intended.)

My classmate repeatedly tried to gain my attention during the moment of silence as I was ignoring her, focusing on my prayer.

“Pst! Hey! Hey you!”

In my head I said, “I hear you. I’ll be right with you in 30 seconds. Please take a number.”

When I was done, I looked up at her, acknowledged that she was trying to talk to me; however, she looked confused to why I didn’t respond to her within an instant. Apparently I had upset her a bit there. My bad.

Not only have I personally been disrupted by talking but as I bow my head I’ve felt a tapping on my shoulder.

This kind of behavior is offensive to me because not only can I not express my freedom of religion by praying in a public place, but you cannot observe this sacred practice and be silent for 60 seconds to show respect to me, my classmates, or my beliefs.

The moment of silence extends to the world. Maybe not in the same minute but it’s certainly not limited to our classroom.

We’re not only taking one minute to pray, but this moment is also to show reverence to those who lost their lives fighting for our country.

Do you have the restraint to sacrifice 60 seconds of your day to not interrupt your classmates who just might be praying for these soldiers?

“Listen” and “silent” are composed of the same letters so if you are incapable of being silent, listen.

The moment of silence is only one minute. Please refrain from talking and in exchange, you get 1,439 minutes left in the day to talk now.