It’s March 14. This is the one month anniversary of yet another school shooting in the United States. (It’s also Pi Day.) And a multitude of people exercised their freedom of speech in cities large and small across the country.
Free speech is important. It gives voice to every marginalized and under-served group. In this case, it even let the dead speak again.
But what good is free speech if no one is listening?
This is the thought that occurred to me while I watched the news and scanned videos people posted online.
I read the signs of protesters on the lawn of the U. S. Capitol. Some were catchy. Some were old news. Others made no sense to me at all.
Then I wondered, “Are any of the elected officials who represent the people flooding this grass watching this? Are they listening to what the citizens are saying?”
I had to smile a little at some people who were watching from the sidelines. Making a silent protest for oppositional views because it seemed to make more sense.
Silence as free speech?
Why not? They were likely heard as well as those hollering and shaking their signs.
Because to be heard, someone must listen.
So, America, who’s listening?
I don’t post political or argumentative blogs or memes or articles. Not because I don’t have opinions (uh, anyone who knows me, feel free to sound off about this in the comments). It’s not even because I don’t want to “offend” anyone (because I probably offend plenty of people by staying quiet).
My brand is one of encouragement and hope. I write stories where right wins in the end. Love prevails. Life isn’t perfect and all the pieces don’t fall into place, but there’s a happy ending.
Because there’s plenty of the unhappily-ever-after in real life. I don’t want to read about it, so I’m certainly not going to write about it.
That doesn’t mean I don’t tackle tough subjects. In LOVE’S LATE ARRIVAL, my characters face bullying, prejudice and actual assault. Things weren’t calm and easy for them. One reviewer even commented on this being the “gritty side of Sweet Grove.”
Guess what? The world is a gritty place. And the people with grit are the ones who’ll survive in the end.
That’s a common theme in my stories.
Of course, if you haven’t read them, you wouldn’t know. Because if you don’t listen to what I say, you can’t know what I think, how I feel or what’s important to me.
The same can be said of people who speak against guns, abortion, violence, discrimination, harassment or a multitude of other topics that have become “issues” in our world.
On the flip side, if we never listen to those who speak in favor of any of those topics, we won’t know why they think or feel as they do. What is their story? Why are they on the opposite side of the fence from me?
Maybe if we stopped thinking about our own argument and just heard what they said, we could find a middle ground. Or maybe not. Some things need extreme answers.
But there will never be answers as long as no one listens to the questions.
We’ve all had a conversation with that person who starts talking every time we take a breath. They don’t address anything we say or ask, but they do push forth their agenda, their ideas and their programs.
How do we feel during that conversation? Angry? Irritated? Frustrated?
Unheard? And thus unimportant?
It’s no wonder that their is so much division and arguing and discontent in our country. The majority of people are being ignored (or at least feel as if they are).
Sure, they speak. But no one listens. How do I know? Because the political, religious, economic and racial agendas keep being pushed forward. And no one addresses the concerns of the average person.
You can’t address what you don’t hear.
I applaud the founders of the U.S. for pushing for a Bill of Rights to protect free speech (as well a numerous other liberties). I wish they would have written in a clause mandating listening (with the intent of hearing and understanding not debating or rebutting).
Apparently, you can’t legislate listening any more than you can legislate morality.
Do you have a sure-fire way to be heard when you speak? Give it up. Let’s figure out a way to employ it with Congress.