Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about speaking up. Whether it is for your own interests or the interests of others, it can be very daunting to assert yourself. We fear that we will not be accepted, that no one will listen, or that we will lose the respect of others for speaking about something that we care for. When we are silent, we have no commitments. When we use our voice, we are making a commitment to the words we speak. When we are silent, it is easy to assimilate into a crowd. Using our voice makes us known and makes us stand out. Silence tolerates destruction, anger, and injustice. The TED talk by Clint Smith entitled “The Dangers of Silence” offers excellent illustrations of why we need to stop being silent – “all around us we see the consequences of silence manifest themselves in the form of discrimination, violence, genocide, and war”.
Discrimination. Violence. Genocide. War.
This is what happens when we remain silent. We allow those who have the stronger voices, and not the right voices, be the loudest. We have the ability to be heard and we have to believe that there are people that will listen! If we do not speak out, who will? This class has taught me to no longer be intimidated by using my own voice. I may just be a college student, but that should not stop me from speaking out about issues that are important to me. I have a duty to erase indifference with my voice. I have a responsibility to speak out about injustice with my voice. I would want someone to use their voice for me if I needed it, so I must use my voice to help those I can. We must remember that our voice, the voice for good, is stronger.
Clint Smith has four core principles that he encourages his students to abide by:
Read Critically. Write Consciously. Speak Clearly. Tell your Truth.
This is why we have a voice – If we read about injustice, we must then write about it, blog, tweet, or post. We have to communicate to others about why this injustice is wrong and keep talking until they listen. We cannot be silent. We must be loud.