Tired of Feeling Silenced

Thursday, July 03, 2014

I'm a little riled up. Now, I don't get riled up very often and I certainly don't take to a public forum with my thoughts until I have had time to consider both sides and find a peaceful and respectful way to share my view. 

But I'm tired of being silenced. So here it is all it's sassy glory.

Though, it's probably not what you think. I am not a supporter of a fringe movement that feels silenced by the larger group. I don't have a favorite liberal topic that isn't being taken seriously in this mostly conversative environment I live in. I am not a minority with a story of injustice or prejudice in a world that is supposed to be nondiscriminating. I don't have a secret story of pain that others have quieted because it is too uncomfortable to listen to.

In fact I feel like if I was one of those things, people would want to listen to my story.  But since I am a happy conservative white religious woman, my views must be boring. My story must not be unique, doesn't seem to have any special value,  and was probably handed to me by someone else, right?  If I set myself apart somehow from the rest I would be interesting and worth listening to, right? Since I already have acceptance by being part of the "majority" I don't need respect,  right? 

Maybe it's prideful, but I believe my story is as important as anyone else's.
 

re·spect

verb

1.
admire (someone or something), as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
"she was respected by everyone she worked with"
synonyms:esteem, admire, think highly of, have a high opinion of, hold in high regard, hold in (high) esteem, look up to, revere, reverence, honor More   

ac·cept·ance

noun
1.the act of taking or receiving something offered.
2.favorable reception; approval; favor.
3.the act of assenting or believing: acceptance of a theory.
4.the fact or state of being accepted or acceptable.

Respect does not equal acceptance. Nor should it. I don't believe the cultural demand that everyone be accepted for who they are and what they do is either necessary our helpful. Rather I think it can be harmful to those who are accepted and cast an iron veil of silence on those who are commanded to accept a person and everything they do and believe as a package deal.
 
Respect, on the other hand, is deserved by every human being. There is something of value in every person. There are good and wonderful things about every person. Each person has a struggle and a pain to bear that should be treated with kindness and gentleness.


We are all on the journey to happiness, health, and prosperity. The desire to grow and improve is found in all humans. To preach that we need to accept everyone just as they are is a disservice to all humankind.  It says that everyone is fine where they are, that either they can't change or don't need to learn from life and all the people we share it with.  I don't know about you, but I need the ability to change.  I need to progress. I don't want to be stuck with this imperfect knowledge and grumpy human nature I inhabit now.

I think the world needs change, too. The world needs people to progress, to prosper and share resources, to grow in charity, to grow in our capacity for peace and understanding. 

But respect is vital.  Respect means that we alone are not the most awesome,  that we personally or collectively don't hold all truth.  It acknowledges that another has valuable insight, that they have something to teach us, and that we have something to learn.

I don't think you have to have the same views to respect each other. I can have great respect for you, for your desire to help others,your desire to be true to what you believe and still disagree with the way you go about it or the choices that leads you to make.

But that isn't what we are told. We lump everything about a person into one and tell each other that if you disagree with someone's choices than you must be against them entirely as a person.

So I have been made to be silent. You can share your views because they are different than most, but I can't share mine because they are similar to many others. I can speak about silly inconsequential things and disagree with whomever I want, but on the things that truly matter I can't say anything that may offend someone because they think differently. So I am made to be silent. 

There are those on every side of matters of consequence that try to force their beliefs on others, be they religious, political or otherwise. However, we can't let that keep us from telling our stories and sharing our own beliefs. Just as it is unproductive to try to force your views on others, it is unprofitable to only share with those that agree with you.

True connection comes when two people gain respect and greater understanding from each other by sharing their own stories and finding something to appreciate in another's story. That is most often accomplished when we see something in a different way, from a different view than our own, to listen to something that we haven't experienced or thought of on our own.

True connection  happens when we can speak with another who believes differently and learn something about them and about ourselves as well.  

Often, in an effort to make a safe place for those who don't hold a religious belief, I am kept from sharing my own beliefs and values. The problem is that my 'religion' isn't just a set of ideas. It permeates every aspect of my life. It is the blueprint I use to build my family and my home, the guide I use to make all my decisions, especially in weighty matters. I cannot separate my faith, my family, and my story, so I am forced to keep my story to myself. 

If we forbid each other from speaking of things we find different than we can never truly connect. 

So if you feel silenced, instead of feeling like you have to yell to have your voice heard, instead of using force to present your truth, instead of remaining quiet behind the veil of acceptance, speak softly and speak honestly. Commit to always speak truthfully and respectfully and honor those that do so as well. 

As we create sacred spaces that honor and respect others without demanding your view be accepted, we create environments that are safe and foster true connection with the rest of humanity. That is the only way we can really learn from each other and the experiences we collect along life's long journey.

See the thing about connection is that you have to listen and find value in another person before you can feel that your own voice is heard. 

Your bravery and integrity should only be measured according to your own truth, not the truth of others. It is brave to go against the crowd if you are following your heart and soul. It is just as brave to live in the majority if you are following your heart and living according to the truth of your own soul.


So be brave, be honest, be lovely, and most of all, open to loving others.

*End sassy rant and return to our regularly scheduled program*

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2 comments

  1. I have felt some of these things quite often in the last few years. I loved your idea of speaking softly and honestly. Words of truth expressed with love.

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  2. Couldn't have said it better myself. You and I are one in the same girl ; )

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