Lately I've been thinking about the importance of using our voice to create a better world. The voice of a nation. The voice of a child. The voice of the sick. The voice of a community. A tiny word that speaks volumes for the sake of a kinder, safer world.
I've turned to the wisdom of Malala Yousafzai, the child-woman who is wise beyond her years, a thousand times for inspiration and encouragement. Now I'm turning to her one more time:
"I speak not for myself but for those without a voice... those who have fought for their rights... their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated." ~Malala Yousafzai
Her strong, enlightening voice speaks for so many.
Using our voice helps guide humanity to remain fair, honest and tolerant.
The definition of voice is to express something into words. That's not always an inherent characteristic in a person,
I was shy as a child, particularly when meeting new people. I remember my parents had a dinner party and I hid in my room, too nervous to speak to adults I hardly knew. My father, wondering where I was, found and scolded me for my bad manners. He not only demanded I meet his guests but wanted me to look squarely into their eyes, shake their hands and say, "I'm pleased to meet you."
It was a simple lesson on the importance of good manners. It was also an exercise to illustrate how using my voice, even for a simple task, meant the difference between right and wrong.
We already use our voice in many ways. If a child crosses the street when a car is coming. If you speak to friends about your point of view. If you speak out against injustice in the world.
I was only nine years old when Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated but I remember Ted Kennedy's heartbreaking eulogy. He spoke of his brother's legacy, one of honor, decency and kindness. These principles were true of RFK. His life teaches us that peace, tolerance, compassion and an extraordinary sense of decency are necessary and timeless:
"My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
As he said many times, in parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:
'Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.'"
This should be part of The Golden Rule, the reciprocity of treating others as you'd like to be treated. And the idea that we can make our dreams of peace, equality and tolerance into reality.
Despite the dark clouds ahead we must keep these ideals firmly in our hearts.
We need to use our voices.
Advocate - Against injustice, wrongdoing or bullying. Be someone's voice who is afraid or lacking in knowledge or ability. Speak up when someone is being treated unfairly or criticized. Help someone who is lonely, afraid or depressed. Perform a simple act of kindness if someone is down on their luck.
Stand up - Our country, the United States of America, is going through a difficult period after the recent election. People are pitted against each other. Hatred, bigotry, misogyny and violence have increased tenfold. Take stock. Look inward. What are your principles? What do you stand for? What is right? What are your core values?
Remember what our country stands for:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Help one another - I know too many people dealing with all types of hardships. Illness, loss, depression, loneliness, fear, loss of insurance. financial hardship, even thoughts of suicide.
The world will always have problems. Keep in mind what our parents and grandparents endured. The Depression. two World Wars and the Holocaust were all unimaginable moments in history.
Today is our moment in history. How will it be remembered? What can you do to make it better? How will you help others? Will you stand against oppression and prejudice? Will you lend a helping hand to those in need?
How will you use your voice?
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." ~Helen Keller
This post was previously published on Cathy's blog, AnEmpoweredSpirit.com.
Cathy Chester is an award-winning writer and health advocate who has lived with Multiple Sclerosis for 30 years. She writes about finding the joy in life despite disability on her blog, AnEmpoweredSpirit.com and as a regular contributor for MultipleSclerosis.net, The Huffington Post, Mango Health and Multiple Sclerosis News Today. She is also the official blogger for the prestigious international organization the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers. Her work has been published on countless health-related websites as she is passionate about helping others manage the difficulty of living with a chronic illness.
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