Are we staying too hushed?
Are we staying too hushed?
Some say that our most powerful weapons are our voices, but many times these weapons have incited our fears. Many of us feel a deep desire to speak out and express our ideas, but are unsure of our abilities to verbally retaliate and assert ourselves. We linger towards the back of the crowd, agreeing with the ideas and opinions of others whilst feeling a burning, uneasy sensation bubbling inside. It’s a common fear. However, our unwillingness to stand by what we believe in prevents positive change from occurring and leaves us feeling defeated. Almost like doormats. On the inside.
Imagine this. You’re sitting at your table trying to peacefully enjoy your sandwich when your friend starts rambling about how another girl, Jane Doe is annoying and tries too hard to get people to like her. Within minutes, everyone at your table starts to agree with her. You, on the other hand, feel that Jane Doe possesses a hilarious personality and want to stand up for her, except... you can’t. Because you’re the only one with a different opinion to the rest.
We cringe at the idea of our fictional selves shying away from speaking out and standing proud. However, let’s face it, it happens to us all the time. And that’s okay.
Take a look at the public’s reaction to acclaimed Hollywood actress, Shailene Woodley’s confession that she wasn’t a feminist. The Internet erupted into chaos: cycles of angry articles slamming her opinion were produced and many pointed out that she was wrong. Personally, I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with her confession. However, I do know that the negative media response that she was blasted with would be enough to scare anyone away from speaking out truthfully.
Like Woodley, we face criticism and slander when we boldly express unpopular opinions. Breaking away from the herd mentality produces consequences. Consequences that could break us. Friendships can be affected and changed. You can end up feeling embarrassed and ostracized in front of your friends when you speak up. It’s not an easy feeling and I have personally been engulfed by these fears in the past to the point where they have kept me from expressing my true thoughts.
Woodley has faced the alarming consequences that we are afraid of. However, unlike most of us, she chose not to back down. She accepted the public’s criticism and reflected on them from a supportive email that she received from Kate Winslet, according to the People magazine. “Sometimes the waves are going to be so big you’re going to feel like you’re drowning… And someone, that reporter, is going to publish something and make you seem like someone you're not.”
We worry that if we break out of the pool of values that we were forced to uphold, we won’t be treated the same. And we probably wouldn’t be. However, our society needs people who are willing to break from this mold and express their opinions. Without them, our society wouldn’t be able to progress and implement positive change for the better.
Consider the actions of Malala Yousafzai, a Nobel Prize winner and female education activist from Pakistan. Despite facing harsh consequences in Pakistani society for encouraging women to access education, she continued to stand up for what she believed in. If Yousafzai hadn’t shared her voice bravely, our world would be robbed of one of the most quintessential youth activists of her time.
We can also take wisdom from the British physiologist and epidemiologist, Sir Richard Doll. Doll was recognized for his nonconformity and eventually got credited for finding the link between cigarettes and lung cancer. Prior to his discovery in the 20th century, smoking was an increasing trend and many did it to seem “cool.” Doll’s work, along with others’, was able to ignite the movement to end smoking and ultimately saved lives.
Nevertheless, internationally recognized leaders like Yousafzai or scientists like Doll aren’t the only people possessing rights to speak up freely. Everyday people possess this, too. Consider the people who participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott to end racial discrimination in the United States. Consider the people who have worked tirelessly worldwide to bring awareness to the LGBT community. These people, alongside millions more, have courageously transgressed “the norms” and verbally asserted their beliefs to start a revolution.
Speaking out represents the birth and acceptance of new ideas. It signifies new inventions, new books, new music and new technology. It gives hope to dreams of new bridges and new modes to problem solving. It unravels alternative routes towards achieving peace and equality. If we never attempt to share our ideas, it would be impossible for our world to, truly, progress forward.
We must accept the fact that expressing ourselves, sometimes, will not bear a positive outcome. However, if we keep quiet for the rest of our lives, we contribute to the world’s loss of millions of new ideas and opportunities. If you believe in something, then fight for it. Start speaking out . Quit the Hush Hush Method of today’s society.
Talia Trackim is a high school student in a sleepy town in Pennsylvania. She is a passionate story-teller and believes that telling stories and communicating experiences is the key to changing the world, prompting her to fall in love with the spoken and written word.