The Opening of Voices

All voices welcome, all perspectives invited.  What does this really mean in an environment where so many of us have strongly defended, deeply emotional, and sometimes painfully heartfelt stances? Can we honestly and truly welcome different perspectives?  Can we hold that space for an opposing view, and perhaps even critically evaluate it on objective merits? Can we choose not to respond, but rather to intentionally sit with an uncomfortable feeling, and not feel compelled to change someone’s mind?

It is amazing to witness the breaking open of voices.  Not easy, and not always pretty, but critical to moving forward in pivotal times. I wonder what precipitated this groundswell, is it perhaps the weight of the issue(s) at hand that does not allow us to sit mute any longer?  Or is it the number of voices that have risen to speak for or against our interests that encourages us to enter the discussion? Regardless, this cultural shift has opened a door for long bottled up expression. The outrage, the concern for “our way of life” has motivated many to stand up and boldly share their thoughts and concerns, perhaps even to join like-minded groups in the hope that their voices will be galvanized and thus more powerful agents of change.  

Understanding our own perspective and sharing our voices allows for progressive movement towards change.  These collective voices raised in passionate discourse have been essential to initiating this path of change.  I take heart in the cacophony of voices, no matter how difficult and challenging, as it is in fact apathy and silence that is our true common enemy. However, the challenge before us now is how to knit a framework from which we can effect needed change and co-exist without compromising our most basic respective values.

The frank, sometimes brutal discourse that has been occurring around gun violence is but one example of our breaking open.  It has been fueled by vitriolic commentary from all perspectives and camps have been divided often to the complete lack of unwillingness to hear a differing viewpoint.  Despite the stalemate, at the core, no one from any thought school seems comfortable with the innocent lives lost in the crossfire.

If we hope to move critical agendas forward we are required to be both brave and humble. Brave enough to stand still and listen, humble enough to believe we do not have the only “right” answer.