[The words of this sonnet are printed below.]
We feel inspired by stories of people who overcome obstacles to free their voice. Think of Helen Keller or Frederick Douglass. Think of Greta Thunberg rising out of a mute depression to launch her climate protest. Think of all the new voices emerging in the Black Lives Matter protests across America speaking for those who can no longer breathe.
These stories are heroic and uplifting, but there are the other stories, often preludes to those triumphs, that are tragic.
Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring warned of a day when song birds would be extinct because of human production and use of toxic chemicals. The environmental movement and crucial regulations slowed the die-off she saw taking place, but sixty years later we are hearing fewer songbirds by a third and even fifty percent in some regions due mainly to pollution, habitat destruction and climate change. Long standing environmental safeguards are rapidly being undermined. We are accelerating toward that awful total silence.
Systemic injustice against other people imposes another tragic stifling. Racism has deprived people of equal education and forced them into poverty and turned a cold heart away from their cries.
Voter suppression is one of the most unethical, outrageous, horrific acts of silencing. It is hard to believe that politicians are getting away with this blatantly discriminatory abuse of power, but they are, and in many states.
Some of us have a difficult time speaking our truth for psychological reasons—in fact public speaking is right up there with death as one of our greatest fears. Yet if we have the privileges of being heard when we speak and being able to vote without obstruction, we have a moral duty to use our voice and our vote on behalf of those who have been silenced.
Reparations usually refers to paying back the billions of dollars stolen from the African American and Native American peoples, but giving silenced citizens equal and easy access to vote is also a form of reparation.
You can find short descriptions of eight organizations that are working against voter suppression here. There are other organizations as well, including excellent local and state groups. Please act right now to support one or more of them, and please use your voice and vote.
Humanity and our democracy both are at a turning point with survival at stake, and the only way we are going to find our way forward is if we each listen to our deepest, heart’s core, to the spirit of life within us, and speak it. We need to listen especially to those who have been silenced. Their cries of pain are the feedback we most need to heed.
Only when all have been given equal voice can we hear the sound of our complete collective truth and discern the direction that the spirit is calling humanity to take.
Thank you for doing your part.
The Sound of Truth
Rose breasted grosbeak whistles out its trill
and shines a scarlet sign against blue sky
high in the leafing beech. It stands me still
despite onslaught of eager dog, mayfly
and never stopping thoughts. A song so true
clearly expressed—repeats with variation:
is that not what we all are called to do,
to sing our part, one choir of all creation?
How long will you stay furtive, quelled by fear
or dulled by doubt from full rose breasted voice?
Someone is walking by who needs to hear,
who needs your truth right now. Lament, rejoice,
share news of fuzzy sweet green buds you found.
My day was saved by one such honest sound.
copyright 2020 Thomas Cary Kinder