When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.
– Malala Yousafzai
These are crazy, confusing, uncertain times.
The very institutions dedicated to protecting us are being systematically dismantled.
We watch children as young as 18 months , ripped from the arms of their asylum seeking parents, only to be carted off to make shift detention centers in abandoned Walmarts. There they are kept in cages, see sunlight for a mere two hours a day, sleeping on mattresses with space blankets for warmth.
We see citizens, children, gunned by crazed killers with only prayers as response.
We watch helplessly as temperatures climb, droughts worsen, floods decimate and refugees are turned away.
We witness herbicides and pesticides take over our food supply and poison our systems.
There is a transparency that exists now, with the aid of cell phone video, capturing the indeniable scenes of racial bias, sexism, and prejudice of unthinkable proportions.
I know I am not alone in my horror at the anger and brutality that can be witnessed on a 24/7 newsfeed.
Happening Globally. Happening in America.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Perhaps, most disappointing of all is the fact that our elected officials remain uncomfortably silent about these atrocities.
In my humble opinion, their silence is complicity.
In a time where Congress seems to have abdicated their sworn oath to conduct meaningful oversight, it becomes imperative for us, as citizens to step into the void, to find our individual and collective voices and speak out.
Our voices are more powerful than we know.
Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your inner voice.
~ Steve Jobs
It takes courage to find and sustain an active voice.It is much easier to stay silent for fear of judgement or reprisal.
But if we continually allow that fear to hold us back from speaking out when we have something to say, we are in essence agreeing with the untoward behaviours.
And yes, people may disappear when you say things they don’t like.
But that behaviour says more about them than it does about you.
Case in point, my godmother no longer speaks to me because of the eulogy I gave at my dad’s funeral.
I won’t lie, it is especially hurtful when you find out that people you thought loved you unconditionally suddenly don’t like you enough to even talk to you.
But here’s the reality: If you lose people for speaking your truth, well, you never really had them anyway.
And if you don’t speak out, you will never know the people who would have loved you for your authentic self.
It took me quite a long time to develop a voice,
and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.
~ Madeleine Albright
Perhaps I am fairly passionate about using our voices because I had lost mine for so long.
My Italian/Irish heritage made for a fairly volatile household. Rage was a common emotion. I learned loud confrontation is best avoided.
And though I had the common rebellious streak as a young adult, I found myself acquiescing more often than not throughout my 26 year marriage to “keep the peace”.
It’s been within the last ten years, once I was on my own again, that I was slowly able to see the value in my opinions and able to let go of the fear of what others might think.
Nothing that I can do will change the structure of the universe.
But maybe, by raising my voice I can help the greatest of all causes-
goodwill among men and peace on earth.”
~ Albert Einstein.
Here’s the thing:
We all know right from wrong. Or else we are temporarily (permanently ) insane.
Sometimes we need just need a little help remembering. Like when you see me put that candy bar in my pocket without paying for it. Or you see my pick up the waitresses’ tip from another table as I walk out the door. Or whenyou see my throw trash out the car window we tool down the freeway..
You are going to say something to me. To remind me, that temporarily I am insane. I have lost my way, I must have misplaced the lessons that my mama taught me.
You are actually doing people a favor by speaking up:
Silence makes them think their behavior is acceptable.
Whether it is the bully in the schoolyard or the Nestle CEO stating that water is not a basic human right.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.
They just need some reminding that it is not acceptable :
~To poison the residents of Flint Michigan.
~To let American citizens residing in Puerto Rico go for months without power.
~To shoot young black men in the back, especially in their grandmother’s back yards.
~To contaminate the land, the water and the air
~To pay your workers shit wages while you make millions
~To grab women by the pussy
~To value your GUN more than your neighbor’s CHILD
~To force women to have sex with you in order to keep their job
~To Remain Silent
Look at it this way: Speaking up is the POLITE thing to Do.
And it’s our DUTY to do so.
Need some inspiration to use your voice?
Cathy Chester, AnEmpoweredSpirit.com. Cathy Chester, award-winning writer and health advocate who has lived with Multiple Sclerosis for 30 years writes about finding the joy in life despite disability..
Towards Us Finding our Collective Voice,