A common life principle followed by many people now a days goes like this:
No matter how badly people treat you, never drop down to their level, just know you are better and walk away.
Being constantly surrounded by folks who are always ready to pull you down, most of the times to their level of discourse, this principle sounds obvious and practical for any self-respecting individual trying to stay afloat. The fun starts when one decides who is pulling whom. And it gets funnier when the one who is pulling considers himself as the one who is getting pulled. A perfect case of mistaken identity.
My ruminating self believes that often it is the ego that plays a critical role. It may not be the case of dropping down to a certain level. More often than not, it is about failing to see that you are the person who is treating someone badly, not the other way round. It is about mistaking the ego for self-respect, about mistaking megalomania for magnanimity, and about mistaking self-aggrandizement for self-sacrifice. This happens often in case of the modern empowerment brigade, whose ego considers accepting mistakes a sacrilege, who tend to believe that their character is spotless, who have been brought up on a constant diet of chasing one's convenience, even if it comes at the cost of somebody's survival.
When it comes to remaining silent, or for that matter walking away, be it in the context of the life principle or otherwise, you may not always be doing a great service to the humankind. While having the maturity to know that sometimes silence is more powerful than having the last word, it is the ability to decide the "sometimes" which matters. In common family situations, or even in our corporate lives, it is a known fact that silence leads to more misunderstandings, and it is only through communication that issues can be resolved. It is not always the case of dropping down to someone's level ... it can also be the case of getting back to the fundamentals of where you have come from ... or a case of thinking, or not thinking, about the basics, sitting at your high pedestal. How can walking away in such cases be justified?
All of us have examples of people around us who claim that their silence is golden, and once they open their mouth, there are high chances of an apocalypse. Incidentally, this silence is not golden, but made of brass, with not even an iota of semblance with the yellow metal of higher pedigree. These people also are mistaken by the fact that their silence is helping keep matters under control. Matter of the fact, like in many other cases, is that actions speak louder than words. Even if you remain silent, your abominable actions are enough to bring you down from the pedestal of high morality.
By walking away, as espoused in the life principle, you are not showcasing your nobility. You are in fact running away from the reality, and from the fact that you don't have it in you to climb up (or down, depending upon the way you look at it) and solve the matter. The other person may not treat you badly out of choice, but out of compulsion, because every ounce of extra freedom you claim, is a transgression in that person's basic existence. By snatching their right to exist ounce by ounce, inch by inch, you are disrespecting the faith someone has shown in you. Isn't that a typical trait of a narcissist?