12 March 2013
HAVING A VOICE
There is an interesting phenomenon happening across the world these days. People who never had a voice are finding their voices and are speaking out – for some, it is for the very first time; for some, it is against oppression and tyrannical dictatorships; for some, it is against abuses of all kinds: mental, physical and spiritual. People are speaking out against their governments, against big business and especially (it seems) against the current President of the United States.
Students rose up when a young man was brutally killed in the streets and all of a sudden, we had an “Arab Spring” (Summer, Autumn and Winter). A young Yemen girl, sold in marriage to someone three times her age (by her father!!), fled to a court, appealed to a judge and was awarded emancipation in a country where girls are undervalued and not appreciated.
Voices are being lifted in song, praise, poetry slams, reality shows, blogs, vlogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, self-published manuscripts, YouTube videos, photographs, fashion, music, you name it, it’s being done – voices, voices everywhere.
Normally, I would applaud this liberation of the vocal (or mental) chords. And I do. Deep down in my heart. But along with this “freedom” to express (our)selves, I am noticing a disturbing trend: People tend to want everyone to listen to their voice, without extending the same right to the audience of whom they are demanding attention. The last political campaign in my beloved United States is a prime example of this. I cannot tell you how many times I had to bite my tongue when conversing with people of differing political views. They wanted to rant, rave, yell and scream at me without giving me a chance to (calmly) state my position on the matters. It appeared as if their voices mattered, but mine did not. You can only imagine how THAT went over.
And everyone knows my love of social media. But lately, even there, (maybe especially there) my voice and the voices of several of my friends are being stymied, criticized or ridiculed. It seems like people are working on the premise of “Well, ‘your’ voice isn’t the same as ‘my’ voice. So, one of these voices must be wrong, and it must be ‘yours’ because ‘mine’ is right.” People have begun using the power of their voice to become instant armchair critics of everyone else:
• “You are too critical of people, you need to be nicer.”
• “You post too many pictures.”
• “I don’t like that you are always posting inspirational quotes…nobody is THAT perfect.”
• “How come you change your profile picture every day?”
• “Why do you have so many ‘rules’ in your group page?”
For the record, for anyone who is my Facebook friend (or who otherwise have access to my page through a network of mutual friends), if you have a problem with my page, my posts, my many (many) pictures of food, cloud formations, sunsets, me – GET OVER IT!! To paraphrase a song that was popular in the 60’s: It’s my page and I’ll post what I want to. Now, mind you, I strive to be respectful of my family, friends and relatives who don’t want their pictures splashed all over Facebook – if you tell me, don’t – I won’t. I expect the same from you. (But I really am beginning to resent the automatic statement spoken almost the minute after I take a picture: "I wonder how quickly will this be on Facebook?" Believe me when I tell you - I DON'T POST EVERY PICTURE I TAKE! Geesh. But I digress...
I know you are wondering how I’m going to tie this all up in a nice, spiritual bow as I normally do in my blogs. (Yeah, so am I.) All I can come up with is this (and it’s a bit of a stretch, but here goes):
I am striving (again) to read through the Bible this year. Currently, I am in the book of Joshua, and have just finished reading how God dealt with the children of Israel (for 40 loooong years!) before bringing them into the Promised Land. Shortly after leaving Egypt, the Israelites camped at the base of Mount Sinai. It was there that God handed them the Ten Commandments, written with His own finger. In it, God basically told the Israelites, “I have chosen you to be My people and I will keep the promises that I made to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. BUT, I have a couple of rules that I want you – no, scratch that – that I DEMAND that you obey in order to reap the benefits of My blessings.” In other words, God said “This is MY page – if you don’t like it, you will be cursed.” If you think I’m making this up, check the following facts: 1) God gave them rules; 2) they broke them (over and over again); 3) therefore, they wandered for 40 years in the wilderness; and 4) finally, NONE OF THE ORIGINAL children who left Egypt (except Caleb and Joshua) made it into the Promised Land, not even Moses. See, God had a voice and He used it also.
I am not saying to squelch or quiet your voice. By no means. Use it loudly and proudly. Just be respectful of the voices of other people – and be mindful of any “rules” that might be in place.
© 2013 Kristina E. Smith Tuesday, March 12, 2013