they say sometimes silence is like stone.
in this kind of meetings, everyone always cheers and congratulates and applauds everyone else. be it sincere, be it just a form of courtesy, after every panelist or speaker stops to talk, someone starts to applaud. even in cases where the intervention was too short to deserve such a tribute, you can always hear comments and chats and noises from the audience.
this happened all the same also today, with one single exception.
we just had the last plenary session of the day - the one devoted to how to finance mechanisms to bridge the digital divide. the panelists - even the industry ones - spent their time talking about new taxes, voluntary contributions, and solidarity funds; and the climate was quite nice.
however, at a certain moment, one more speaker took the floor: mr. david gross, ambassador of the united states of america. he started by telling the audience about all the efforts that the US government is doing to bridge digital divide, and the contributions it is making to many developing countries, and all the initiatives that president bush is taking in this field. but in the end, he more or less said, we believe that the only way to ensure the development of ICTs in least developed countries is to ensure that they are safe and welcoming places for american corporations to invest, and liberal markets for them to sell their goods and services at a freely determined price; thus, there is no way that the US will ever accept or apply any kind of international solidarity taxation.
when he finished, for a long, infinite moment that stood for ten or twenty seconds, there was just silence. no trace of the ordinary applause, no noise, no comment whatsoever. just silence. emptiness. still air, but with such an absolute and perceivable load of hostility that i found the moment terrifying; just as if someone had suddenly torn the veil of words and smiles, and shown reality in all its ugly appearance.
it might be easier to do so from the former third reich central bank in berlin mitte, but sometimes, after all these talks about dialogue, good will and reciprocal understanding, you canīt help wondering where the world is actually going.