“What I most regretted were my silences….And there are so may silences to be broken” – Andre Lorde
The theme of my previous blog The Sound of Silence was an appreciation of silence as an opportunity to reflect on life from the quiet sanctuary of one’s unspoken thoughts. Nevertheless, we should be in no doubt that there are occasions when speaking out is the right thing to do; when to be silent is to be complicit in wrongdoing.
American writer Rebecca Solnit says in her latest book The Mother of All Questions “silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard”.
Think about your values – those you hold to be right or wrong – and speak out about them. Speaking out really does change or even save lives – perhaps your own if, say, you are a victim of abuse. Speak out to help change other people’s lives as well. Remember the 1980s campaigns to raise awareness of AIDS and, more recently, campaigns that challenged society’s tolerance of sexual harassment or the safety of children in school. The social media hashtags #MeToo and #MarchForOurLives have amplified our voices and strengthened our hope that change can happen when we have the courage to speak out.
But none of this is new. In 2018, we are celebrating the brave, courageous work of the Suffragists and Suffragettes who, 100 years ago, refused to be silent. They won the right for women to get the vote – an important victory in a battle that is not yet over – and we, in turn, must continue to speak out for women’s right to be equal.
Those of you in Manchester, or visiting, might like to check out these fascinating exhibitions at the Manchester Art Gallery – Annie Swynnerton: Painting Light & Hope and Sylvia Pankhurst: Working Women . I am sure you will find them inspiring.
So, what do you speak out about? What will you speak out about?