[This is my continued reflection from a previous post, which you can read here.]
I used to ask my friends if you had to choose losing either your eyesight or hearing, what would choose? A rather grim hypothetical state of affairs, but such was my pondering back in those days. We would go around answering the question and when it was my turn, I would always say I would choose to lose my hearing instead of my sight. People were usually surprised to hear that since I’m a musician and hearing is so pivotal to what I do. But when I envision not being able to see a beautiful sunset as opposed to not being able to hear a beautiful piece of music, my heart seems to ache more for the sunset. It’s hard to understand. It’s also a bit ironic since I’ve been annually losing my voice for the past few years. Now, THAT, I would NEVER choose to lose. It was so far from my mind that it didn’t even enter the discussion. But alas, it is my current reality.
In the past I was too self-involved to even notice my surroundings during my voicelessness but this time, things have been a bit different. Since all I could muster was a “loud” whisper for the past few days, I noticed people around me starting to speak on my behalf. I was thankful in some instances but in others I noticed some assumptions being made about what I would do or say, which were off-target. Sometimes, I was left quite surprised at what some people were thinking about me, about how I would react or what I would say about a situation. I was being spoken for but misrepresented. I didn’t have the strength (or the voice) to rebut any of those assumptions or claims. I couldn’t explain myself, couldn’t express my feelings adequately; it was hard to declare my needs and desires. I imagined a few more days of this and I would start to feel ignored and perhaps even nonexistent.
The world is a very different place when one does not have a voice.
Those in our world who don’t have a voice – the marginalized, the poor, the disadvantaged, the abused, the weak, the young, the old – live every day without being heard. There is a kind of powerlessness that results from lacking a voice. I wonder all the ways that such people may be (mis)represented, perhaps being spoken on behalf of in error, being victims of false assumptions.
I’m glad social justice has become trendy in our society. But I wonder if we’re really taking time to consider and know the people we are so committed to help. If we really understand what it is they need and want. What they want to say if given a voice.
I wonder what would happen if we didn’t look at them as them. But start to see that we’re the same. People who long to be heard.
I wonder what they would say.