The power of a voice

Erinn Williams

I have always believed in the power of a voice. It goes back to when I was younger. I spent a lot of my time with my grandfather. He was known around our town for doing whatever it took to make sure that people were treated well. He would feed the homeless and take in people who had no other place to go. My grandfather believed that everyone deserved to be treated with dignity and respected no matter what their circumstances in life were. I would watch him treat the downtrodden the way other people might treat a king. He didn’t turn a blind-eye to injustice because his motto was “If I don’t, who will?” And that motto has imprinted itself on my heart.

I may not be as hands-on as my grandfather was but I have found my niche in the world of serving others and it happens to be my voice. It may sound dumb and I am sure that there are people out here who disagree with me, but I believe using your voice to promote social justice and activism is just as important as actually getting your hands dirty. Speeches have brought peace and also led men to war. Albert Einstein said “Nothing that I can do will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice I can help the greatest of all causes—goodwill among men and peace on earth.” I believe that we should think the same way. Maybe our thoughts won’t cause a revolution, maybe that won’t dismantle established systems and maybe they won’t cause worldwide change, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.

People get mad when you talk about race, poverty and inequality but if we don’t speak on it how will anything change? We promote and indoctrinate shame in just mentioning injustices, completely forgetting that these conversations are vital to creating a community that is accepting. So for those of you who are fighting the good fight, I want to say continue to keep bringing up what is going on in the world, even if it makes other people uncomfortable.

And then there are times when we use our voices to promote the wrong things. I have friends who have sat in honors classes where other students have told them that they do not belong there because they are using “welfare” and “if they have money to spend on college, then they have money to be off government assistance.” Yes, that is the world we live in, even here in the quaint city of Statesboro where we are supposedly a family.

When we bring up these topics we have to remember not to be contradictions though. When the same people who wear “I love boobies” bracelets and pink for breast cancer awareness say things like “it wouldn’t have happened if she was dressed differently” try to control the reproductive rights of women and celebrate sports players who have committed domestic violence being reinstated, there is some kind of a discrepancy.

In that same way, when the same people who are now saying that “violence is never the answer,” “when has violence ever solved anything?” and “an eye for an eye is wrong” in relation to the Michael Brown verdict are the same ones you see on social media everyday promoting wars, loose gun carrying laws, stand your ground laws and the death penalty there has to be some kind of disconnect.

I think that, as much as we need people in this world who are logical and calculating, we need those who are emotional and concerned with what happens to those around them to speak up. When we downplay the importance of those things, we are leaving out a crucial part of what makes us human. Until we care about human rights and basic dignity and speak out about it, can we really say that we are thriving?