Was it a threat? If the title got your attention, I wonder why? Do you know the meaning of that phrase? Does anyone know the meaning of it? Wow. When I first heard it, it surely sounded as a threat. I am not saying that it was a threat, I am saying it “sounded” like one. No need to jump to conclusions. Yet, I would have loved to respond to those words, perhaps questioned them, but I did not. But think it over. You are talking about dead men and you are saying dead men don’t talk. Well of course, technically dead mean don’t talk but there is so much more to it than that.
I was sitting in the lobby, right out in public, and the person at the computer was on the cellular phone also. He kind of laughed and then said in a stern voice, Dead men don’t talk! Was his laughter to lighten the words or was it to emphasize the words? Or was the laughter to get away with the threat? Or was he just talking about a movie? Ahh, but you should have heard the voice, the inflection, the tone; it surely did not sound as if this was about a movie. The gentlemen who uttered those words was not whispering, and was not speaking in a confidential tone of voice. You have probably seen people on cellular phones when they speak. They go either one way or the other. They either speak very quietly to have a personal conversation (rarely) or they are speaking loudly into the phone,knowing that anyone and everyone around them can hear their conversation. That one single phrasesounded so much like a threat , but to whom? There wasn’t anyone around except me, and at a great distance there was the security guard.
PRIVACY NOTE: Cellular phone users usually demand privacy when they are speaking on their cellular phones, and they usually expect that privacy even when they are speaking on the cellular phone in public. Most times, this is a reasonable expectation or request. However, there are so many times when cellular phone users cannot and should not expect privacy in their cellular phone conversations. These are the times that your phone use and your phone call will not be private:
- You are speaking in a public place on a cellular phone and you are speaking in a loud or very loud tone.
- You are speaking in a public place (i.e. business, bus, train, school etc), and your guest (the person on the other end of the phone) is speaking very loudly or speaking to you through a speaker-phone connection, or you are using speaker phone to respond to your guest.
- You are in a public place and you are speaking in a low tone but you are in such close proximity to other people and there are many people or one person very close to you. In these cases, you cannot expect privacy.
You cannot expect privacy on your phone — in public places. If you do, you might be surprised to find out that you have no privacy at all in public places. That is why these places are called, public places. And though you might think it is rude if someone enters your personal conversation, or if someone comments on what you are saying on that phone conversation, you must know that your loudness and your interference into someone else’ s personal space (by your loud voice or by your guest’s loud voice) is an interference in their privacy.
So, bottom line is that if you do not give privacy, you will not get privacy. If you want a totally private cellular phone conversation, the best thing to do is to go someplace that is not public or get very far away from other people.
- React in Your Own Way: It is funny how different people react to different circumstances. Probably the average person might have overheard that loud conversation with those same words and thought it was a threat. My thinking is quite different. I heard it as a debate. Since it is an untrue statement, I heard it as a real debating issue. My first immediate thought, when I heard what that person said, was to respond, just as loudly, with the retort , yes they do, surely they do! Even though that was my first reaction, it was a silent reaction; it was all in my thoughts and I did not express my opinion. I knew that it wasn’t necessary to express my opinion right then. Why? Because I knew that more importantly there has to be an article on this. The circumstance was so important. And you sit there wondering why this short conversation was important.
The words of those killed roar like thunder for years after the murders. And sometimes the words of the deceased are so bold and so loud that they can be heard around the country and then around the world. Dead men exclaim, scream, shout and their words are plastered throughout the land until the ends of eternity.
Is there proof? Yes, there is proof. Every day there is proof! Have you heard Gandhi’s words in your lifetime? The assassin stopped his physical body but could not silence his spirit or his followers. This leader’s words, philosophies, biography and stories are heard around the world. The stories do not stop at the shores of India but they travel on throughout every school in our city and we are not even in India. Indeed dead men talk.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: Martin’s words are plastered throughout the whole entire United States and throughout our city. We see his name on our schools, on our street signs, in the annual memorial celebrations and at those ceremonies we celebrate his life and the work for peace that he did. Yes, indeed, dead men talk. The healing and intelligent, warm words of Dr. King live on and on and on,even though he died so very many years ago. His name graces street corners, high schools, community buildings and community projects throughout the entire United States of America. And when certain men and women die, their words are long, bold, lasting and strong enough to wake up the rest of the dead in our land.
Dr. Cook: Listen carefully and you will hear all the words of the dead men in our land and listen more carefully and you will hear the voices, of the men who are no longer with us, throughout our entire world. Dr. Cook was a reverend man who spoke on radio about the Holy Bible. He had a morning show on WFME 94.7 on FM radio, quite some time ago. And then, he died. But Dr. Cook’s messages and his speaking and his voice live on and on,even though he is no longer here, his words can still be heard on radio. They continued his show after he died.
Dying Man’s Confession: Look at the importance of a dying man’s confession. These words are held with greatest importance, a dying man’s last words are good evidence in court, simply because the man is dying -not because of whom the man is. Each and every day we see the importance of the words of men and women who died, and our nation and our world upholds the messages that these men uttered while they lived and these messages are ushered around the world, in booming voices, in triumphant voices, proving indeed, that bullets, guns, knives and other weapons stop the physical body but have no effect whatsoever on the positive, good spirit of man. You cannot stab integrity, you cannot slay good character, and you cannot murder trustworthiness. Their memories and spirits live on, indefinitely, as their history talks up a storm.
Just A Biological Statement: Never be fooled into thinking that dead men don’t talk because that statement is simply not true. If t here is any truth to it this is merely a biological statement but not a social statement , not a statement of defeat. Know that all men and women have a voice, a strong voice after they die. Just listen to the news to be reminded of that. Most of our famous artists were poor and basically unknown while they were alive, and they achieved great fame after they died. Their paintings, usually sold for practically nothing, but after they died, their paintings became so alive, so important and so loud that their messages are and can be and always will be heard and seen throughout this entire world. Who has not seen Picasso’s painting of the flowers? Who has not heard of Rembrandt? And what about Chagall? The values and experiences of those who have died centuries ago, are expressed to modern man as he views their work in practically every state in the United States of America. These artists expressed their feelings in full color, oils and watercolors. So not only do they talk but they talk in living color.
Celebrity Death: Let a celebrity die, a celebrity that we haven’t heard of in months and you will see tv show after tribute, after movie re-run constantly all week, all month and even longer if the celebrity has been around for a long time. In our land and in our world, some of the most powerful, most lasting, most life-changing voices come from humans who are no longer on this earth. And how does this happen? Simply, yes, there is a very simple answer to that.
Elie Wiesel lives, and yet he brings the words of dead men and women to life in his book, NIGHT , as he tells what happened in the concentration camps. Hitler killed millions of Jewish people, and other people too, but he could not kill the spirit of the Jewish people. Hitler could not tame the human spirit that fought with every breath, to live despite all odds against them. Elie speaks to thousands of people each and every year about what he saw, what he lived through and what was told to him. Elie is the living witness to some of the millions who died. Memorials and ceremonies are held throughout this entire world every year, for the victims who died. And every single year, someone’s words reach out of the darkness, to prove the power of human life and strength. Every year, we listen and hear the the true stories of the survivors, and the survivors tell the true stories of those who did not make it out of the camps. And though their bodies did not make it out of the barbed wire fences, their hearts, minds, spirits and stories flew with angels wings over the boundaries to our ears.
Death of A Pope and others:Once the Pope died, there were books circulated, audio cassettes with his words, there were newspaper articles in every country of the world, speaking of the what happened to the Pope. And all over, they reprinted his words, his sermons, his thoughts and his ideas. Even today, on some radio stations you can still hear the Pope’s voice. No one stopped the Pope from getting his message out to his people. Rosa Parks, Gordon Parks, Harriet Tubman, they are all dead, yet they all talk.
Family Dies: When your family member passes away, that is not the end of them or their thoughts, words, deeds or life. That person lives on in your memory over and over and will be there until the end of time. No one just vanishes simply because their time on this earth was up. You can get on a bus and remember them. You pass a grocery store and see their favorite fruit and you remember them as if they were right there with you. You remember their words. You remember the things they tried to share with you, the things they told you or things they asked you. No one is dead forever. The actual moment of death lasts for just a few short minutes or moments and then they are living in Heaven or Hell forever, depending on their choices that they made in their lifetimes. We listen to memorials, obituaries, ceremonies, and religious rituals, even from their funerals, they talk. They talk through the tears in the eyes of their families and friends.
I write this article today to encourage people, to bring people hope, to help dry the tears of you if you were ever among those who claimed that dead men don’t talk. You know better than that and you are smarter than that than to believe those false words. Dead men bellow! Martyrs watch us from Heaven as we remember them. Dead men’s voices, sayings, quotes, philosophies and words sprout out through the cracks of every brick building in the nation, the words creep along train tracks in the South and plunge through the muddy waters of dirty rivers in our land. The words of our ancestors grace the outside walls of our greatest library in Brooklyn, New York, not the words of living people but the words of dead men.
Dead men’s words travel faster than the speed of light sometimes, if we just stop, pause and listen very carefully, we will hear Moses say, Thou Shalt Not Kill! The words that were given to us so long ago grace the walls of our courtroom buildings. And what about those that we do not wish to hear from ? There are some dead criminals, who in their last moments just before they were executed, uttered their sorrow, their repentance, their regret for their disgusting crimes. Why do I even mention those? Well, this country is one of equal opportunity so I mention dead criminals because even they speak their mind before they leave this earth and the newspapers will print their words for days if not weeks.
Even dead criminals talk: And more than that, most of the dead men that talk are not criminals. Even those dead men that we do not wish to hear, they talk also. You have all seen the executions of murderers and what newspaper did not print their last words? What victim’s family was not haunted by the words of those dead men who spoke right from the electric chair? Dead men talk. What saves our society is that MOST of the dead men in our world that talk are gallant men, wonderful men, creative men, gentlemen, men of wisdom, grace, power and generosity, men who made good positive lasting changes in our land, in our world. Those are the voices that save society.
If anyone is scratching their head and being confused still,if you are still saying, dead men don’t talk! Let me be clear that the talking that I am writing about is their words, their biographies, their stories, their memorials, their urns and the words on their tombstones, the street signs with their names on them, this kind of talking, dead men talk!
A Young Boy: And finally, but not least of all, ask the murderers of Ari Halberstam if dead men don’t talk. Take an automobile ride over the Brooklyn Bridge. As you come to that stretch of land that the van travelled over, that small area of ramp on the Brooklyn Bridge where Ari was killed, see if you dare say that dead men don’t talk. When Ari was killed on the Brooklyn Bridge, when he died, his voice was heard all over our city. The voices of his people, his community and voices throughout our city made sure that his name would remain on that ramp for eternity, and it does. As I ride over that bridge, I see his name, over and over. When they murdered him, they thought that this was the last they would see or hear from him. Little did they know that his name, his story and his memory would shout out from the grave to every person that rides over the Brooklyn Bridge – forever. And, I smile, in relief that these assassins did not silence Ari. Dead men do talk! Spirits live on forever. And their voices will come back to haunt those who committed those crimes against them. That is what assassins and murderers will never understand. That in murdering innocent people, you raise their voices to the loudest that they have ever been. That in murdering innocent people, you lift them up to heights they had not achieved in life, and you permit their voice, their message to circulate all over again, everywhere. Wherever the printed word can go, wherever there can be a street sign or the name of a school, you can hear the voices of dead men.
We strive: What makes our city and our country so great is that we yearn to hear those voices, the voices of the soldiers who were silenced by bullets and knives. Never let anyone convince you that a person’s spirit, a human’s message ends when their heart stops beating. You know so much better than that.
Go to this site for the story of Ari and go to this site for story of the opening of the museum [http://www.arihalberstam.com/php/6.php] -the ceremony . And come away from there knowing without a doubt that dead men speak.
As I overhead that loud conversation where that one person declared that dead men don’t talk, I know the truth in my heart, so I did not respond to it. However, when I am silent, I am not silent for long. Eventually, my thoughts, my words, my opinions and my ideas do surface. Guess it is my style, my silence surfaces in the printed word. And sometimes my silence surfaces on video tapes that are my television shows. I am glad to live in a country where the words of truth prevail, no matter what.
So now that we have re-established the fact that dead men do talk, what will you say after you die? What will your legacy be to your friends and to your family? What will your lasting words be? You are the one in charge of that. You are the one who is making the memories. What kind of memories will you make. What kind of memories are you living, right now? What do you have to say for yourself? If you have a message, make a video and place that video on youtube.com . You can put your message there for free, no obligation. So post your message and let your voice and your message be heard even after you are gone. But think of this before you post your parting message; Are proud of the story that you bring to your followers? Can you stand tall, confident, and look people in the eye and say, this is my message! This is the story that I bring to the world. ?Are you proud to show that message to your mom, your dad, your children and to all of the rest of your heirs-to-be? Is your message worthy of God’s ears? Though dead men talk, the real challenge in this life is to do your best work while you are alive and breathing. That is the ultimate challenge.
Do your best work now. Present something to the world that you are proud of. Because after you are gone, your message stays somewhere, and you have no time, nor any way to change your mind.
For myself, I do not write to try and change anyone, nor do I write to judge someone. I write to learn. From every article that I write, I am educated, again. Most times when we say things to others, usually the message that we are giving outward, is the education that we need to hear for ourselves. Today, and every day, I am educating myself, and if one other person gets anything at all from my writing, that makes me happy too. So, I remind myself again, that today and tomorrow and for every day thereafter, I must present a message to the world that I can be proud of. May I never resort to people pleasing, and always strive to make my God smile.
Updated: April 16, 2008
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