The Village needs to SPEAK UP!

ALL THE SHOUTING IN THE WORLD WON’T MAKE YOU LISTEN…but if you really, truly heard, would it inspire you to speak?

What is it that needs to change? What compels us turn a deaf ear, a blind eye, and a cold shoulder to situations where our voices, used correctly, could be game-changers? All the Bads of the world need people to combat them, but how do we muster the gumption? Do we need to make a fundamental change, or, like Dorothy’s Lion, will we find we had the courage all along?

Childhood isn’t a place I like to dwell on. I could cherry-pick you an idyll, selected memories – breadcrumb moments of light and enjoyment – which kept me going, somehow, just enough for me (and presumably others) to remain silent and largely unquestioning. I could gloss over the abuse, the neglect, the settings-up-to fail, the constant undermining attacks on child-me. I could sell you a story of Silver Linings – of acceptance(ish) of what went before, and how it all counted as a yellow brick road to the person I’m Becoming.

Or

I could reach out a muddied hand from the quagmire of my blighted past, pouring your ears full of turbid tales of isolation, humiliation, daily bullying from almost all corners, and the resultant mess, which looked like a girl but was a snail-shell, filled to the brim with fear, anger, and bad behavior – within, a tiny, shivering, broken self. I could tell you of the slog, the stoicism, of just existing day to day. Of losing myself in a vibrant, daydream world, where people liked me, because my imagined life was so, so much better than the one I suffered through. Of writing vicious, enraged poetry, filled with bloody imagery, and of wishing, wishing, wishing for revenge.

What would you do when I invited you to see beyond the illusion, beyond the charming words illuminating the highlights? Would you pay heed to the dark shadows crawling below the surface, seething and threatening to break through my artifice? Or would you content yourself with the bright lights and gimmicks I employed to give you a highly abridged version of my upbringing? A prettified story with the cracks papered over; all bells and whistles applied (some omissions necessary), that you could swallow whole.

And what would you have done if the person doing the telling (not that I could have, my voice and ability to reach out having long been shelved alongside the smithereens of my spirit) was then-me? Still-stuck-amidst me? The one with so little hope of change she no longer even wondered if it were possible?

Would you have offered comfort? Platitudes? Sanctuary?

Would you have questioned the why? Would you have enquired? Would you have checked it out for yourself?

Would you have spoken up?

The Village needs to Speak Up - summat2thinkon.wordpress,com

We live in more enlightened times, and perhaps now-you would notice the stark differences between then-me and the other kids. Then-you might not have. Then-you (like all the ‘then-them’s; the adults who came into somewhat regular contact with me and my family – the school nurses who turned me away, labelling me a hypochondriac; the teachers who noticed my extreme aversion to playtime and nonetheless forced me outside, rather than questioning further; the family psychiatrist who gobbled down the falsehoods and never created safe spaces for honesty) might have had higher priorities. Then-you might have preferred the ease, the comfort, of taking yourself off the hook; of going along with the lies.

Any who knew then-me, could tell I was different, discomfited, odd. Some sought to support me. Others heaped punishment. None (to my knowledge) challenged the situation. Could it have changed the outcomes if they had? There’s no way of knowing, but there are regular, documented instances of tragedies where the right questions asked, at the right times, could have made all the difference, and, heartbreakingly, harrowingly, didn’t.

Asking questions is uncomfortable. Not easy. Dangerous, boat-rocking behaviour.

Asking questions (especially if you’re the ONLY one asking “Is everything okay?”) can render you vulnerable, ridiculous, interfering, a target.

Speaking out, especially into situations of conflict and abuse, is risky.

Sometimes, though, taking that risk can make all the difference. Sometimes it only takes one person to break the bystander effect for other people to crowd in, in support. And we really need to stand together, to speak, to combat the badness and gloss of falsehood which all too often proliferates in this world. We need to use our voices to puncture the silver-tongued smokescreen and bring light to the injustices occurring in its shadows.

Every situation is different, and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ response. ‘Speaking Up’ won’t always be best done literally, and wisdom requires that comprehension of the context must always be part of the formation of any move to intervene, but make no mistake, there is NEED to respond. All the Bads, whatever they may be, NEED people to take courage, to combat them.

A wise woman recently remarked “standing together saying “NOT OKAY” is how slaves became free, how women won the right to vote, how kids with special needs are included in mainstream classrooms WITH THE SUPPORT THEY NEED…, how gay people earned the right to marry legally and and and and…”

The Blogosphere has recently been FILLED with wonderful, heartening examples of people using their voices for Good – of standing up, of speaking out, of showing solidarity and shouting “NOT OKAY” in the face of big, appalling examples of badness.

If we look beyond the genuine goodness of these acts, beyond the big, bold, shining Good Example, we’ll see that there are still so many more instances where the lack of speaking up has left hauntings, harrowings, hurts. We see it when childhood loves disappeared and still have a question mark hanging over their existence. We see it when the abused return to their abusers. We see it when words of current-day slaves echo across our memories. We see it when adults refuse to challenge an aggressive, bullying force, keeping their heads down and leaving the bully to victimise, presumably just glad they aren’t the targets.

We see it when our child-self panics, clinging to the leg of our resolve to Be The Difference, terrified of isolation, vulnerability, backlash. We see it when our stomach vomits clouds of nervous butterflies and our determination quavers in the face of Speaking Up. We see it in hindsight, when we picked up our child-self and soothed them with songs of “Somewhere, Over the Rainbow” as we walked them rapidly away from the situation that scared them. We see it in the aftermath outpourings of the Righteous Indignant – “Somebody should have…”

Somebody should have. Anybody could have. But nobody did.

Everybody bears the shame for the perpetuation of bad situations where, once we understood, we were complicit by our silence.

Everybody has a future full of opportunities to choose differently.

Each of us can bear honour for situations where we had the courage to Speak Up. Each of us can add ourselves to the growing crowd determined to give voice, somehow, to the notion that the bad things of the present time are “NOT OKAY”. Each of us can behave in ways which ring true with the ideas that we’re stronger together, and #LoveWins, and the small acts of kindness by everyday folk, can keep darkness at bay.

We all CAN, but will we?

Not every time, no, for we all are human and we all fall short. There will be times when we’re too scared, and live with our regrets, using them to shape future responses. There will be times when we just won’t be able to comprehend the situation. There will be times when we just don’t. There will be times we get it wrong. There will be times when it wouldn’t be wise.

But I’d like to think there will be times when we WILL Speak Up. I delight in the thought of growing numbers of people prepared to see, to hear, to comprehend, and to act with wisdom. I’m awed at the thought of people discovering they were scared, but had the courage to do it anyway. I’m thrilled at the idea of increasing numbers of people swelling the ranks of those willing to speak up against bad situations, to say “NOT OKAY” and see a world changed for the better.

I have a not-so-secret hope that somehow, someday, we ALL might be Lion-hearts.

Love. Compassion. Courage. Change.

We got this, right?

 

This was written as part of 1000 Voices for Compassion, as well as Finish the Sentence Friday.

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This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a focus on Compassion and Courage.

Write a relevant post and add it to the link-up right here by clicking the blue button below.

Here’s how to get involved:

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40 thoughts on “The Village needs to SPEAK UP!

  1. Oh, I hope we’ve got this, Lizzi. I just have to believe we do. We have to speak up, or there won’t be anyone left to speak up for. Whenever I feel hopeless about the state of our world, I remember that big changes in history (good changes) weren’t easy. We’re living through history right now; I just hope enough of us speak up to make the good changes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw that piece shared the other day “They came for the [insert whoever] here, and I did not speak up, because I was not a [whatever they were]…” (you know the one) – and I just think SO much, we need to speak up, and we need each other’s voices too. We need to hear that we’re all joining in and urging each other forwards.

      In the light of last night’s voting results here, I have no idea how the future looks, but MASSIVE change is on the horizon, one way or another. I just hope we all keep speaking up and demanding that we all get to shape that future in ways which benefit, rather than ways which oppress.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There was a strange parallel in my own life recently with a way Scarlet was treated which I personally found dangerous (by a kindergartener.. wth) but luckily she was spared of too much of what he throws to other kids. It was only that inkling of what I feared could come from such a destructive and damaged boy. I did speak up, and adults got involved and this little boy is afraid to even look at my child. I’m one of the lucky ones.
    I do fear for what’s ahead, though. He’s five and has really been abusive to most of the school.
    Did I ever tell you that I know your doppleganger? She’s one of my best friends from childhood. Should you ever find yourself on this coast!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohhhh poor Scarlet! I’m so sorry to hear she got picked on, but WELL DONE YOU for speaking up, speaking out and making sure the teachers knew what was going on, so that he could be diverted.

      Something in me wonders if that kind of child needs more, more, more ++++ love, rather than less. I don’t know whether that kind of badness is innate or inherited or…what, really, but certainly learning and reinforcement have parts to play, and I would worry what kind of environment he’s being brought up in, but he absolutely needs to NOT treat other kids so appallingly.

      And NO! You didn’t tell me you know my doppelganger! How exciting.

      Like

  3. Beautiful post. So poignant. And you’re right: we all can stand to stand up for what’s right. Because there will always be something to stand up for…and if there’s not, then by golly we will have achieved some kind of enlightenment. Have a wonderful evening. xox

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting Lizzi, how the posts I’ve read so far on this link-up are on a similar theme. I read the first few paragraphs of yours as I was writing mine, but needed to get on with it, so I left reading it properly till now and am struck by the similarity of our endings – we will fall short (your words) fall down (my words.) And we will get back up and keep going.

    And yes to: “Everybody bears the shame for the perpetuation of bad situations where, once we understood, we were complicit by our silence. Everybody has a future full of opportunities to choose differently.” This is also very similar to what I was expressing. I had a whole lot more about how we may need to choose love, over and over, a thousand times, because we’ll forget. But the post was so long, I’m saving it for another one. The point here is just, yes I agree. We need to make active choices and they aren’t always easy.

    Also it struck me, reading this, how far you’ve come in a short time – not long ago you hated that little girl that you once were, now you have compassion for her. So good to see that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m getting there. Getting there! I think a lot of fundamental changes are working their way in me, as I live longer and have more exposure to ideas and people that are good for me. HOORAY for that!

      It strikes me that there are often familiar ‘themes’ when we write about these things, and it makes me wonder if it’s because we’re all converging (from slightly different angles) on some sort of essential truth about life.

      Like

    • *grins* I now have a ridiculous vision of me in some kind of ninja armour, trying to get everyone to fight battles with love! 😉

      But I’m glad you think what I say helps 😀 That’s awesome.

      Like

  5. I always enjoy reading your pieces, 1000Speak or other. You say everything in such a all-your-own kind of way, that I just never know. Always curious. Then I get stuck on expressions, one you highlight in this post, at the beginning. I’m just wondering lately if I should speak about my thoughts on phrases such as “turn a blind eye” on my podcast. My brother and I debate often about if there is anything for either of us to say on something like that, but I think a discussion can’t hurt. Such lines are such a part of our language nowadays and I am always fascinated by language and how it influences us with ourselves and each other. I, for one, am glad things have come as far as they have, even if there’s so much more that can and should be done. I would have been much worse off, as many of us would, if it were even fifty years ago. Hope we’re showing signs of progress. With certain things in the news lately, I’ve noticed less of a comfort in just sitting back and saying/doing nothing, but I probably don’t have enough context/perspective to say for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m firmly of the opinion that if you have a thought, as long as you’re prepared to stand corrected later (if you’ve not been fully appraised of the facts) you have the right to share it. Whether or not it’s responsible to do so is an entirely different matter, and I sometimes wonder about mine.

      I DEFINITELY think you and your brother could have a good discussion around the kind of language which is so entrenched. Things like ‘struck dumb’ could be part of it too, and though I think it’s not necessarily demeaning (that might be ‘ableist privilege’ though), I do think there’s more to be thought about.

      I’m glad you like reading my pieces. I think my all-my-own-way way of saying things (my ‘voice’, for want of a better term) is something I’ve developed quite on purpose, as a way to engage. I always remember reading the most WONDERFUL essays by Lewis Thomas, and thinking “Gosh, it’s as if he’s sat across from me and we’re having coffee, and he just happens to be explaining his thoughts on termites/gun control/Bach.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow…eloquent, powerful words. As a survivor of abuse myself, that horrid feeling of powerlessness, ob always being belittled, devalued and just generally treated as a disposable thing…your post hit the proverbial nail on the head. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah – it’s just awful to be in that position, and so difficult to see beyond it, when you’re in it. It just sucks everything into a black hole and leaves you empty.

      I’m glad you’re out of that situation now.

      Like

  7. I do think that people are speaking up more and more and taking a stand. Yes, horrible evil still happens but like I said before, take a look at people with special needs. When I was a kid, I don’t remember a single child in school who had any differing abilities. Ever. Now, they goal is inclusion. That feels like progress. Same with what I said before about women voting, slaves free…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. You’ve become your vision of yourself. I hope you realize that.

    I want to share with you something LD and I were watching on TV. It was a hidden camera situation. Actors were pretending to be everyday people, but behaving atrociously.

    One woman was belittling a supermarket employee who was a special needs adult. In another scenario, a woman was berating her daughter for being fat.

    They wanted to see if people would get involved and say something. And catch it on camera.

    People DID. Over and over again, they butted in and told these awful people (the actors) how disgusting they were being. I loved it.

    That’s a beginning, right? One person at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope I’m getting there. I think I will always be a work in progress, but perhaps we all are, and perhaps that’s how it’s meant to be. I certainly feel as though I’m closer, and that’s a HUGE relief.

      It’s interesting you’ve mentioned those shows. I’ve seen them shared before, touting the goodness of everyday people, and how they DO stick their necks out, and how they DO get involved. Which, yes, is wonderful…but I wonder at the premise, which creates the disgusting scenario in the first place, designed to shock and appall, and either incite courage (and cheers from the audience) or highlight shame (and boos).

      I wonder, if I had been tricked by one of these hidden camera shows, and either shown up as a fearful bystander, or duped as an earnest do-gooder, whether (in the event of a REAL situation occurring) I would be so keen to step in another time, just in case.

      I really can’t make my mind up whether I think those shows demonstrate a triumph of the good of the human spirit, or exhibit its duplicity in the most base manner possible.

      Like

        • I hope you’re right. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing, or just a ‘me having a skewed view’ thing, and I KNOW they inspire people, and demonstrate good…I just have never been able to work out why they set me so much on edge 😦

          Like

          • You know, it IS painful to watch. I definitely understand the whole “why must we see reenactments of horrible behavior” thing.
            I had to really get past that. It helped that I was REALLY rooting for the passers-by to tell the nasty people off.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Heheh yes. It makes me glad when they do the ones where a ‘homeless person’ needs help, and people DO stop, and DO make a difference. But…I saw one where a ‘professional’ needed help, and people moved a lot faster, which made me sad.

              Like

  9. There was a telling moment in that dream that speaks in this context. I found myself confronting a man who sat and paid no heed. He wore the air of power. I discovered I was holding a gun (I don’t own any), not a big scary one but a little .22 purse gun I remember a friend having years ago. I pointed it at that man and he laughed, saying something like, “You wouldn’t dare. You couldn’t stand the consequences.” I replied with something like (the exact words escape me), “Damn the consequences. I’m past worrying about those.” Then he said, “Oh.” and the scene changed and he and the gun were gone. When it comes to speaking out and speaking up, there are moments like that, the “Damn the torpedoes”, or “Once more into the breach”, or “…the heart and stomach of a king”, or (though Macbeth was on the wrong side of the fight) “Lay on Mac duff, and damned be him who first says, Hold, enough”, moments, the nail your colors to the mast moments when the truth must come out and be spoken and damn the critics, the nay-sayers, the trolls, the deniers, and the hypocrites. I went looking for the music (still on that) to go with this theme and call out today and couldn’t decide on just one song, so, two different tones, but same message.

    Now, having written that, I’m wondering who that man was. Maybe he was the censor. And that house with all those people in it, was it my head cluttered up with the confusion of outside voices and opinions? If so, (can’t help it) it would call for one more song: 😀

    This could easily turn into a play list, but this one is too on the money to skip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thing is, our dreams are whatever they mean to US, and if you think this guy was your censor or the one who might finally give you the push to go over the edge, who knows – it’s what he was to YOU that’s important.

      The dreams I sometimes have (which are similar in a way, but more violent) are ones where I’m physically fighting someone ‘Bad’, and I’m unable to hurt them – I’m expending all my effort and energy, and it has no impact on them whatsoever. Those dreams leave me so angry and frustrated. I suppose they might represent battling against life and feeling as though I’m getting nowhere. I haven’t had one for a while, which is a good thing. The latest dream I had was about my head falling off, and WonderAunty telling me she couldn’t do anything to help, and I’d have to sort myself out (she was right – I had fallen asleep sitting up, with my head hanging forwards, and my neck was SO sore it woke me enough that I could shuffle down the sofa and support my neck on the arm of it!)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Speaking up, asking questions makes us vulnerable indeed. It isn’t easy being right. It’s easier to go along with the crowd and ignore (also a root word of ignorance) the bad behavior. It’s easier to go along with the wrong. Isn’t that what happened when Hitler took over Europe? Large scale bully, large scale fear—fear of standing up and putting a stop to the bully—large scale destruction.

    Sorry to bring up that example, but it always relates to the very bully in the playground or at work. This was beautifully written, Lizzie. Very powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Lisa – I really appreciate it 🙂

      The other thing about Hitler, which everyone forgets (and which I suppose must also apply to others of the Big Bullies in history – Stalin, Fashion, the Advertising Industry) is that they are powerful, compelling speakers, and sell people their ‘vision’ in a way which appeals, immensely, then gradually edging in the thought of getting rid of ‘undesirable factors’ (Jews, Gypsies, the disabled, blacks, Mexicans, the obese, the ugly…) and these awful thoughts seem less awful at first because they’re just presented as “not what we want – not what we’re about” and it’s not until the idea of individuals being “part of” that the dehumanisation of “not part of” takes place – then our perceptions of reality distort.

      I read an article yesterday which showed live tweets from a reporter at a Donald Trump rally, and one of them said “Just overheard: “Immigrants aren’t people, honey”” – and there you have it, in a nutshell: an exclusive ‘we’ and the dehumanisation of ‘those who don’t belong’ 😦

      We need, more than EVER, to raise our voices in favour of those who ‘don’t fit’.

      Like

  11. Speaking up can be so hard. The child we were who was taught, “Children should be seen and not heard.” is still there – “Am I worthy? Will I be heard? Will anyone care?” I rarely remember my dreams (Remembering dreams – Hmmm, interesting metaphor in this context.), but one last night pushed its way through to waking. It was one of those Sisyphusian (Sisyphus was punished by the gods by having to push a bolder up a mountain only to have it roll down and start over for eternity.) sort of dreams. In it, I woke in the middle of the night to find increasing numbers of strangers wandering in and out of my house, like tourists, and the house (as they do so often in dreams) growing, shrinking, and morphing. I tried everything I could to tell them to get out and stay out, to close the entries, etc., all to no avail, not so much opposed as ignored, noticed, but disregarded. I think I woke up to escape it. Isn’t it odd that I find this wonderful writing the next morning? We who do, even if only occasionally, try to speak out do need sometimes the reassurance of friends that we are not shouting in the wilderness. I hear you Lizzi, loud and clear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh those dreams are just AWFUL! I’m glad you were able to wake yourself up in the end. There’s absolutely nothing worse than trying your utmost and being paid absolutely no heed whatsoever.

      I wonder, is that why you reblog so many people whose words you think are important – a way of saying to the wider world “Look! LISTEN!!” – because I’ve seen some wonderful pieces on your site which I otherwise would have missed. Either way, I’m glad you do it 🙂

      As to being told our voices aren’t worth listening to – I think that’s something we all have to overcome, and I wonder if that’s why some people get so aggressive about their viewpoint; if their opinion is dismissed or disliked, they take it as an undermining of themself as a whole person. Hmmm.

      Liked by 1 person

      • As for the reblogs, YES YES YES. I think you are right about the aggressive opinions, and that includes the pain of feeling misunderstood [You know I’m resisting the temptation to throw that song in, but at the moment I’m rocking to the Doors’ “Love Me Two Times”] I have had further thoughts on that dream and speaking out, kind of long, including 4 songs, almost a post in itself, but wouldn’t make as much sense without yours. I’ll put that in a new comment. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  12. it’s too important not to…

    having said just that – i love how honest and raw you write how honest you are to yourself about your childhood…a place for me that was awkward, at times alone; and yet somehow forgotten; and yet and an adult haunting.

    i can learn from you 🙂

    as for the atrocities that are occurring today; somehow they are no different of fights in the past such as civil rights, suffrage, and perhaps freedom and peace – i hope that when we stand tall that everyone behind us that fought for a remedy, a right a need, and a change; that their spirits stands behind us and is felt as well – the way i see it Lizzi i is too important not to.

    I didn’t realize that 1000 words of compassion was happening today – as always the days slipped away from me –

    Compassion it so needed to be reminded!

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1000Speak is on the 20th of each month, which (for me, in England) begins ahead of time, because of the timezones around the world.

      I think there are, have always been, and always will be, ways which human beings treat each other appallingly. The darknesses change in setting, but the human condition and its propensity for self-promotion at the expense of others, has not changed, nor do I expect it to. Nonetheless, changes DO happen in ways which, within the specific social context, make things better for minority groups which are particularly oppressed, and it’s worth supporting those groups, for the good of all.

      I’m glad you find it useful that I write so openly about the muddle and mixture of my childhood. It sounds as though yours was a bit of a mixed bag, too! Something I like about the Blogosphere – we all can learn from one another.

      Liked by 1 person

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