A Little Thought – 2017 Week 4


Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.
— Leonardo da Vinci.

Many of us walked to this spot to take pictures. When we got there, for a couple of seconds, we forgot what we were supposed to do. That silence was unforgettable.

(I wish I were taller. I asked my husband to lift me so I could take a better photo. I guess I was heavier than I thought 😉

We were taught to obey authority figures like our teachers. When we saw our teachers in hallways, we would respectfully bow to them.

When I was senior in high school, one day after receiving the exam paper back from my Chinese teacher, I noticed that she had deducted several points from one of my answers.

We were asked to use the modern Chinese language (白話文) to rewrite a classical-Chinese paragraph (文言文). I asked my teacher what I did wrong. She said she didn’t think I had translated the paragraph correctly.

When I told one of my classmates what had happened. She said she, too, had translated the paragraph like I did and lost several points.

“But, that was how she taught us,” my classmate said. She then showed me the class note she had taken. Sure enough, word by word, we translated the paragraph like we were taught.

I showed my teacher my classmate’s note. My teacher said, “That wasn’t what I said.”

I knew my classmate and I were right that our teacher did teach us to translate the paragraph as we did. At the same time, I knew very well that we couldn’t win the battle (wish I had an iPhone at that time so we could video tape…). I calmly walked away. In a strange way, I wasn’t bothered by this at all. I guess when you are sure that you are right, you really don’t care what others think.

When I arrived home that day, I saw my sister Karin sitting by her desk. I told Karin what had happened and asked, “Who do you think has the right translation? My teacher or me?”

Knowing the fact that how easy it is for us to blindly trust our teachers, I switched my teacher’s new translation with mine (which was her previous translation).

Karin thought for a while, and said, “I think your teacher is right.”

“Ah-ha, I knew I was right.”

“Wait a second, I said I agreed with your teacher!”

“Well, I knew you would take TEACHER’s side, so I had switched our translations around. There!” I said, smiling big. I didn’t blame Karin. Even then, I understood how easy it was to agree with those authority figures.

In my life, I have been called weak. I may not be brave, but I‘m not weak. Many times, I choose to remain silent because I know how easy it is for any of us to make a mistake. I understand very well that none of us is perfect. And it is that understanding, quite often, keeps me quiet.

Thanks for visiting my blog.


About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
This entry was posted in Memoir, Weekly Little Thought, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to A Little Thought – 2017 Week 4

  1. loisajay says:

    Maybe this is why I have always loved the bumper sticker: Question Authority. I think you are brave and strong and smart!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Lois. I like that bumper sticker! At least one should get a second opinion when in doubt. 😉 When we traveled to Ireland many years ago, we missed our connecting flight at London airport because a guy in uniform at customs waiting area told us we had to pick our checked-in luggage and sent them through security check again. Well, we waited at luggage claim area and our luggage never showed up; they were shipped to Ireland directly. Oh well… I should read this bumper sticker earlier. 😉
      Good night.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cee Neuner says:

    I am much like you Helen….in some respects. I fear people who appear to be in a position of power. I’m slowly getting over it. Did you daughter have fun this weekend?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Cee. Yes, we definitely came from the same planet!
      Last time I texted my daughter, she was marching. 😉 She is on her way back to Ca. From what I saw on TV, it was a huge crowd, and quite exciting. Silly me, I kept hoping I would see her on TV. 😉
      Good night.


  3. Yinglan says:

    That was very brave of you to talk to the teacher. I don’t think I would’ve had the courage to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The silent ones are sometimes the wisest!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Mabel Kwong says:

    So true that silence does not mean weak. It often means you’re being respectul and giving others a chance to listen. Bit cheeky of you there in school to switch translations, lol.

    By the way, did your husband really lift you so you can take a good shot 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Mabel. Nope. My husband didn’t even try. He didn’t think we could avoid hand shaking if we did. I think he was talking about his hands. Ha.
      It’s interesting that seeing how quiet I was, sometime, my daughter would speak up to protect me. And that warmed my heart. 😉
      Have a nice day!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Marie says:

    It is amazing how we are taught to respect authority, often without consideration of right and wrong. Never really worked for me. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pilgrim says:

    Wise quote, Lake Louise (?) and a story in a brace new world. Question everything for silence kills. Kudos to you, Helen and good night. Perpetua

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Joanne Sisco says:

    We are of a generation of women that respected authority and – for the most part – didn’t openly question or challenge decisions that we believed were clearly wrong or unfair. Even worse, we were usually admonished if we did. Then it takes us the rest of our lives to break out of the shell it imposed. No wonder women of a ‘certain age’ get feisty as they get older 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Joanne.
      >> Then it takes us the rest of our lives to break out of the shell it imposed.
      😉 It’s better late than never 😉
      >> No wonder women of a ‘certain age’ get feisty as they get older
      LOL. Yes, we do 😉
      Happy Chinese New Year!


  9. prior.. says:

    Hi H- well it takes courage to be silent – and it takes class and character to do so with such a good spirit and outlook.

    and ha – on switching the notes – self-fulfilling prophecy to where, as you noted, we tend to assume the teacher is correct.

    and I love the bits of light-hearted humor you weave into posts (i.e. heavier than you thought….)

    Liked by 2 people

  10. So wonderfully written with strength and truth. It touched us on many levels. We found the comment about your husband lifting you humorous. You have a great range.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great Essay, Helen. Thanks for writing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lady Oscar says:

    Agree! Silence is powerful!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Some people can scary us and make us feel weak, you are not alone. Happy new year Helen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Elizabeth.
      Maybe because of them, I became stronger? I don’t know. All I know is that I am stronger than before and I am happy. (I know you are strong, too. 😉
      Happy Chinese New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. That was extremely overcome of you to converse with the instructor. I don’t think I would’ve had the valor to do it….

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Edward Tan says:

    We were taught to obey to elderly and authorities since, that’s a part of our culture, hopefully things are gradually changing

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is a gorgeous shot, Helen. Which place is this?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Adhika Lie says:

    Helen, this is such a gorgeous shot. Beautiful scene, I am a sucker for this kind of scene. Ha, I would love to get taller to be able to shoot from different perspective as well!

    Liked by 1 person

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