I'm traveling back home from a wonderful student residency, so enjoy this repost from 9/22/11.
"Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind -- even if your voice shakes." ~ Maggie Kuhn
In Zoe Weil's book, Above All, Be Kind,
Ocean Robbins tells a story about his dad, author and activist, John
Robbins. In the story, Ocean and his father were walking on the beach
when they came upon a mother yelling at and slapping her young child.
John turned to Ocean and told him "that even though what the mother was
doing was awful, she must be suffering herself in order to be doing such
a hurtful thing to her son." John then went on to offer his help to the
woman, who at first rebuffed his overture, but then broke down crying
and poured out her story. As Ocean said in the story, it's an example of
"love in action" and of someone stepping up to say "enough hurting."
would be wonderful if that's always how the story ended when we spoke
up with compassion and an open heart to say "enough hurting." But that's
usually not the case. Often, as I know from my own experience -- even
when you speak in the kindest, most judgment-free voice, and with only
loving intentions -- people will become angry and defensive, and
sometimes go on the attack when you speak up to say "enough hurting."
I've had that very thing happen several times, from speaking to a couple
who had left their dog in the car on a hot day, to speaking to a man
who was hitting and yelling at his dog, to speaking up when neighbors
were gossiping hurtfully about another neighbor. Each time, I found not
just my voice, but my whole body shaking, and my speaking up was met
with hostility. But I still did it, because who knows what kind of
positive seeds it planted? And every now and then I find that when I
speak up, I'm met with a more positive result. I won't pretend that it
gets easier each time. But for me, not speaking up means condoning
whatever "hurting" is happening.
Many of us really dislike
conflict. And speaking up often means putting ourselves squarely into
situations of conflict (and sometimes potential danger), even when we
step in with kindness and non-judgment. But the simple truth is that the
only way we're going to realize a compassionate, just, peaceful world
is to speak up and say "enough hurting," even when we're deeply afraid
-- even when our voice shakes.
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