Raise Your VOICE!

What a world! What a culture! It’s so noisy – & we’re all so polite. Well – maybe not polite, exactly – many of us are actually pretty rude & inconsiderate – & certainly many of us are almost fatally self-absorbed. (1)

I think most of us are terrified of silence – & of solitude. Yet if we don’t insist on some silence & solitude in our lives, we seem to behave like nothing so much as hysterical little rodents, running-running-running pointlessly in circles on that crazy little wheel inside the bars of our cage (all the time unaware that, not only are we on a wheel, inside a cage, but that there is a whole world outside the cage!).

I was listening to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio on May 18th & heard an interview with hip hop musician Emmanuel Jal on the Jian Ghomeshi show. (2)

Jal has written both a book & a song called 'War Child.' He was born in Sudan & has lived through unbelievable trials & experiences, losing family members to war & spending time as a child soldier. (If you are wondering what the war is about, I’ll give you one guess. Yes, oil. What else??)

He was eventually rescued by an aid worker & wound up in Canada. He now believes he survived in order to tell his story.

It’s notable that he did survive because a heroine of sorts (whose name I don’t know, but I expect it’s in his book) chose to be a person of action & use her life to help & serve people.

I was moved to tears, listening to the interview. This young man is using his voice as his vehicle &working very very hard to help the children of his native land.

A few thoughts came to mind as I listened. One was that I am eternally grateful to the wonderful CBC for its fantastic programming & interviews. Another was that I think we should never discount the power of our own actions & our own voice to make a difference in this world.

I know I try hard to use my voice. I’m not heroic like Emmanuel Jal – but like him, I do recognize the power of the individual human voice to make change happen in this very mixed-up world of ours.

I’m not sure why some of us use our voices, while so many of us are seemingly so afraid to do so.

Well, that’s not true; I suppose I do understand. It’s all about our dysfunctional families & behaviour & our dysfunctional culture & the thousands of years of damaging patriarchy & the endless specter of fear that hold us ALL back...

At any rate, I recall how powerful I’ve found the voice of singer Jewel, singing at the end of her song ‘Hands,’ “We are God’s eyes. We are God’s hands.”

We are also, surely, God’s voice – or at the very least, have the potential to use our voice for good.

Please, raise your voice. In a positive, life-affirming sort of way. Not with anger, I think – although I know we do have anger, & sometimes even rage, & that there are reasonable explanations for our anger & rage & pain. I think if we can work on transmuting the anger/rage into compassion & caring – & action – that is ever so much better for our own health, and, of course, for the health of our world.

Raise your voice, please! For your own sake, & for everyone’s…


P.S. As I wrote in another essay (one of the Earth Day 2009 ones), activism is its own reward. One need not know what the outcome of one’s actions/activism will be – indeed, we cannot! – but as Joanna Macy says, “Grace happens when we act with others on behalf of our world.” It’s true.

P.P.S. I was in Toronto just this past weekend, and as always, had a small stash of loonies & twoonies ($1 & $2 coins) in my pocket to give out to folks I saw on the street, begging. There was a man at the corner of University & Dundas, & as I passed by him on my way to the bus station, we made eye contact, & both smiled. (I’ve always thought it rather wonderful the way we smile not just with our mouths, but also with our eyes.) I then dug into my pocket & went back & put a loonie in his cap. We smiled at one another again, & he thanked me for the money. I think I must have had about a thousand dollars’ worth of joy out of that encounter! I wish I’d given him more money. His smile alone made my day. I’ve decided next time I’m in the city I’ll only give out twoonies.

But here’s the point, readers: supposedly my giving money to beggars is to benefit them. For sure, though, I get at least as much out of it as the people I am supposedly “helping.” This is equally true of all the volunteer work I do (& the charitable donations I make). I don’t do it for me - or at least, that is not my original intention. I want to help. Then I do it, & I get so very, very much satisfaction & benefit from it, one way & another. I recall hearing when I was a child, “Virtue is its own reward.” It surely does seem to be so…

P.P.P.S. Joanna Macy says in her book World as Lover, World as Self – Courage for Global Justice & Ecological Renewal “…you also know that each action undertaken with pure intent has repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern.” I choose to believe that this is so.

‘Quote for the day’ w. this post: “We are privileged, and the duty of privilege is absolute integrity.” – John O’Donohue, Irish poet, philosopher & former priest

(1) I’ve come to think of this as terminal “heads-up-our-own-arses” disease.

(2) You can find an article about & podcast of that show here