What does silence mean?

The other day in my English class we were discussing the freedom of speech topic and the conversation drifted towards an oppressive regime and the needs of the people they oversee. A paraphrased excerpt of the conversation went as follows…

I think we are being given too much information. The way our government works is to mediate that information en masse to relieve our need to deal with it all.

Another person spoke up…
Well its also important to realize that while we are able to function this way, it doesn’t appear that [the middle easterners] are. Their government stepped in to quell the fighting and as such without it they will likely return to it.

I was amused and frightened by this interjection. One person thinks it is big brothers role to be our father figure and shield us from things that may or may not overwhelm us, and the other took things to a different level by implying that the middle east cannot function without one extreme or the other. It was equally frightening when I heard the response – silence.

I found the silence had found a perch in my own stomach, twisting and contorting it into shapes it had never been in. The uncomfortable silence was quite difficult to accept. Is this silence present because we agree with this man’s opinion or are we just so used to not having an opinion that we do not care? Does the fact that I did not speak up even though I knew I had much to say mean I was compounding the issue? So many questions are engraved into my mind and I have really lost myself in thought over it. Surely, the Middle East is capable of being self sufficient and self-policing. How sad it must be for the Middle East to be an assumed terrorist arena where nothing exists outside of the horrors of war.