The Whisper

Martha Conger

"I’d like to whisper something to you about ———," the radio voice said confidentially. A noticeable pause followed, or was it that my mind had gone woolgathering, for next I heard "No, I’d like to shout it from the house-tops!" Despite the logical sequence of the words I had a feeling that I’d missed something. What was it that the voice might have whispered — a whisper meant, perhaps, for me alone? Or was it not intended that I should hear it? That whisper might have clued me in to some advantage, or something too private, too shocking perhaps, to be spoken above a whisper. Something too good to miss! Maybe so.

A whisper, at best, is a disturbing thing with subtle potency. One rule remembered from preliminary nursing is never to whisper in the presence of a patient, even though that patient seems unconscious. Gossip is a whisper at its worst, diverting attention to its insinuations, stirring the imagination to all that its intonation implies, turning the ear into an eager instrument straining to hear what it is that cannot be spoken openly, a stimulant to a curiosity that will not ask for proof; one of the poisons that eat into the heart, capable of turning love and confidence into hate and suspicion without warning.

How would it be if suspicion, rumor, and questionable data were shouted from the housetops and truth whispered? Would it, do you suppose, be more attractive, more acceptable, more convincing? Would the ear be as eager to listen; the heart quiet enough to hear? Would the brain ask for proof? Would our fellows be benefited if we whispered bona-fide truth to them instead of spurious conclusions? Is our own heart clean enough to know truth, the mind serene enough to reflect it? Well, one way to find out is to try it. Never mind the shouting from the housetop.

(From Sunrise magazine, August/September 2006; copyright © 2006 Theosophical University Press)

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