RECENTLY, there has been a movement towards “anti-vocality,” or repressing thoughts and feelings and choosing to remain silent. Chalk that up to a dislike of what is different and to the culture of fear.
I’ve seen how people put little value on the words of others, and how anyone with an opinion that doesn’t conform to what is popular, is shamed, ridiculed and dismissed.
Repeatedly, I’ve heard people being told to “shut up and move on”—that they know too much or too little; or they’re too loud, too bitter, too annoying. Don’t say anything, they’re told, because what you say doesn’t matter; it’s what you do that counts.
We have been deluded into thinking that actions speak louder than words, when in fact both actions and words are important and serve a purpose. As children, we’re taught to speak up, to say what we mean and not just act out. Yet as we grow older, we are constantly silenced, reminded to go with the flow, to wait and see, to keep our mouths shut—even if we know that what is going on is wrong.
Words and power
Words wield power: they inform, inspire, encourage, assure and comfort. But they also sow distrust, create confusion, demean, hurt and divide.
Words have the power to travel across the world many times over, and live through centuries. They know no time and space.
Words are a necessity in life, but our ability to express ourselves through the written and spoken word is a beauty and beast, an ability we must use mindfully and
It was the late United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarsjköld who said, “Never, for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience or convictions.”
To that, I’d like to add this: Never deny your own experience or convictions to those around you.
Do not become apolitical, uninvolved or apathetic. Do not shy away from discussions. Once we stay silent, the things that are wrong will never become right.
While we are all accountable for the things we do, we are also accountable for the things we say. Remember: anything that has been said and done cannot be unsaid and undone.
Let’s learn to use our words again, to understand their value and power. Let’s respect speech—ours and others—and let us not silence others or be silenced by them.