How do you know if your voice is heard? From personal experience, it seems one of two things — or even both — will happen:
You will be criticized publicly and your intentions and motives will likely be questioned.
You will be supported publicly and more often, privately. You might even get some handwritten notes in the mail with words that deeply encourage you.
If you have a platform and you use it, you’ll get people who misunderstand you; this is guaranteed. But if you use your voice well, you are also guaranteed to make people really listen.
We all want a leader who is willing to take some heat. We all want someone to speak from their hearts, vulnerably and honestly. We want people who are less interested in their online follower count, and more focused on the condition of their own hearts. Men and women who will stand in the gap between power and privilege, and for those who have had their voices silenced by generations of inequality.
Right now, many of us are so worried about saying the wrong thing that we aren’t saying or doing anything at all. Having been criticized in recent days for my own stance against systemic racism, I can understand the fear, but take heart - if you are criticized it means one very important thing, you have influence.
Once you get over the initial sting of having hurtful, untrue and baseless comments hurled at you, you get to decide what you’d like to do with that influence.
If people are listening to you, what else will you say? Here’s what I say...
Instead of spending loads of time criticizing others, why don’t we get off the screen and take some action ourselves? Start with the internal work, because nothing truly changes without your heart changing first. Educate your mind and upgrade your knowledge and then get to work.
Here is an idea for action that is free and not even that time consuming. How about using your words to encourage those who are doing work you admire and support? If we want strong leaders to stand up, and help bring healing and justice to our country, then we have to help them by showing our solidarity.
In America the power is with the people and we are the people. Don’t forget it and don’t take it for granted.
So now it is time to take action. You know the resources at your disposal. You know your gifts and talents and how they can be used. You’ll never get it perfect -- but should you meet your Maker tonight you can say something very powerful -- you can say that you showed up and you tried. You examined your heart, you humbled yourself to learn and listen, you walked your talk in public and private, and you built bridges where others were burning them. If we all do this we will make everlasting changes to our country and our culture.
If we can come together instead of falling apart, if we join hands with people from every color and creed, then I am confident that, in due time, we can bring beauty from these ashes.