I am concerned about our world. More so than normal. It feels like everyone is living in fear. We have a constant stream in the news of shootings, attacks, rapes of 3 year old children in church bathrooms (wtf?), terrorism, domestic violence killings, victim blaming, racist slurs, poor bashing, woman bashing, man bashing. You name it in the fear category, we’ve got it.
And fear is this tricky thing. It doesn’t unite people. It divides them. It gnaws at our psyches. It makes us look at each person we see and wonder, “Is he a terrorist?” “Is he a rapist”? “Is she going to steal my money in a Ponzi scheme?”
Fear makes us feel powerless. It strikes a chord of anger in us we can’t quite dismiss. Anger is one of those emotions that women especially have been taught to swallow. It isn’t thought to be ladylike to be angry. Anger is often an explosive, unpredictable emotion. And quite honestly, it scares me.
So here we sit at the intersection of fear and anger. We are scared of each other. We are scared of ourselves. We are scared if we say anything, it will be misinterpreted as being against all the voices clamoring to be heard. We are scared if we don’t say anything, it will be taken as acceptance.
I believe all voices, even the ones I disagree with, have a place. If we aren’t allowed to voice even our most crazy ideas, how can we learn that maybe we are thinking incorrectly? In that same vane, though, if one voice or group of voices continually silences another, how can we learn from the voices we are silencing?
Survivors of sexual abuse and rape have worked long and hard to find their voice. Many of us never find it, or find it in only ways we can hear. If we are able to find our voices, we struggle to feel heard. We struggle with the fear of being told never to tell. We struggle with the anger of struggling to find the voice and whether or not we are worthy to speak. Sometimes, we have found the courage to tell before. Sometimes, we are heard, but far too often, we are shut down.
I know rape survivors are not alone in this struggle. I also know that there are survivors of many varieties and some people, unfortunately, survive many things. People survive oppression, poverty, violence, abuse, physical and mental illness. We survive natural disasters, economic disasters, emotional disasters. We survive. It’s what we do. And yes, far too many people don’t, or they hold onto unhealthy patterns they learned to survive and then use those methods to hurt other people.
It takes time and endurance to find your voice. It takes courage. I commend everything you’ve done to find your voice. I want you to lift it up and share your story.
And as you lift up your voice, I ask a favor. Please remember others are struggling to find their voices as well. Once we learn how to shout, it is easy to not hear the voice next to us that is still a squeak. Please listen for the still soft voices, or those that are yet unvocalized.
There is an African Proverb I’ve seen going around. It states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Please consider going far.
There is much fear and anger in our world. It is scary. Together, though, I believe we can shine a light in the darkness. I hope you believe it, too.
To end the post, I ask you to remember Old Turtle. If you don’t know Old Turtle, this would be an excellent time to learn about her. Old Turtle lived in a lot of turmoil. She didn’t say much as the people and creatures around her tried to define what god meant to them. She stayed quiet until the defining became arguing. When all the voices became so loud they could no longer hear each other, she said, “Please, STOP!” Once Old Turtle had everyone’s attention, she reminded them that the god they sought to define was all they each described and more. A description of god could not be encompassed by one voice. “And after a long, lonesome and scary time… the people listened, and began to hear…”
There are a lot of clamoring voices now. It’s pretty scary. It’s pretty lonesome. I hope it won’t be long for us to get back to listening, hearing, speaking, crying, healing, and smiling as we work together to tell our stories and heal.