affecting human outcomes, Crystal Waters, disturbing the peace, effective uses of the human voice, effective voiceovers, emotional scars, Erykah Badu, giving constructive feedback, Human voice, Jaguar Wright, outrage, talking out, thoughtful reflections, verbal abuse, voice affirmations
It is 6:36 a.m. on Saturday morning as I prepare this post. My legs are wiggling…still…as I listen to the just-makes-you-wanna-dance sounds of Alicia Myers “I Want to Thank You” through the headphones of my iPod. Though I wrapped up this morning’s workout more than ten minutes ago, I continued to dance up the stairs and throughout the kitchen, even while preparing a pot of coffee, all while my beloved babies and husband lie asleep. Oh, this feels like a great start to my Saturday! Quiet, grown-up time! Yes!
As I listen to Alicia’s voice, and that of the other singers (Jaguar Wright, Crystal Waters, P!nk, Erykah Badu) that grace the cool-down portion of my playlist, I give further consideration to how we use our voices, and how much of a role that decision plays in affecting human outcomes. In fact, I wrote this comment on Facebook just yesterday:
“Never underestimate the POWER of YOUR VOICE. With it, you can coalesce forces, or dig a divide; build consensus, or add to the din of despair; inspire hope, or harmonize with the hopeless; lift someone’s spirit, or join in the sing-song of the naysayers. The world awaits the melody of this precious instrument. Shall we hear it?”
There are so many beautiful ways to use our voices. We can whisper a sweet encouragement or affirming inspiration; hum a spiritual, or other tune that may evoke a beautiful memory or stir up nostalgia; or speak with a conviction that others may need to hear during a particularly difficult time of their lives. In essence, we can be a voice for others, a vessel, an instrument, carrying what someone else may need for that moment. By this, I am not suggesting that our voices should always be used to keep the peace, or have a placative effect. Quite the contrary! Our voices should also be used to mark our outrage, and incite action on behalf of those without the power, position or luxury to do so themselves. You can still say what you need to say without using your words as weapons of mass destruction, further displaying your emotional disconnection; however, it is just as important that you choose what you say before offering up what you believe is wisdom or insight, through the gift of voice.
Unfortunately and much too often, I find that we speak without first thinking. Guilty, anyone? Sometimes, our words are measured, deliberate, and carefully ensconced in political correctness and sensitivity so as not to offend, or result in hurt feelings or a bruised ego. But many times, we just open our mouths and say whatever the hell comes to mind, through the non-meditations of our heart, insecurities, past hurt or other feelings of inadequacy.
I consider the various occasions that I’ve heard words exchanged between “loved” ones in public places and across rooms, all with the intention of making a point, in the process tearing down the other, emasculating them, sometimes to the point of inciting a daggone riot! Sometimes the heated exchange is followed by apologetic pleas and requests for forgiveness, but by then the damage is already done. The seeds have been planted, and feelings of inadequacy, judgment, and hurt take root within the recipient. The guilty party may be hurt as well, remorseful not necessarily for the offense, but because of the knowledge that they have no power to recant the un-constructive criticism, vehement tongue-lashing, or disparaging diatribe that was dished out in the first place. Though the abuse is not physical, the emotional scars can be far more afflicting and cut deeper than any bruise, cut, or laceration. You can’t just cover them up! It is the voices that continue to reverberate in the heads of the offended.
So yes, say what you need to say, but not without consideration for how your words may be received, and the multiplicity of ways in which they can be interpreted. There’s most certainly more than one interpretation. While you can’t always gauge how your words may be received (they’re often received through the lens of the recipient, through the baggage of their own personal life journeys), you can always check the truth and sincerity of your intentions to be sure.
Say it, speak it, hum it, sing it, lift it! Lift your voice to do good and not harm; soothe, not insult; transform folks, not put or keep them in their place; restore, not ridicule; bring about justice, not judgment; and affect change, not inflict wrath. Lift Your (Every) Voice, but mark my words!