As I scroll through my Twitter and Facebook feed every day, I feel disheartened; I feel weary; I feel as though I want to capture every story, every emotion, and put them into words to give voice to those who have none.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what the idea of courageous conversation means to me. Up until a few years ago, I had never thought about conversations being courageous. To me, courage was tied to tangible acts of sacrifice, and while I still think that’s true, I also think courage can come from quiet moments of resistance when you decide to open up your mind to new ideas and people. Ultimately, I think courageous conversations give voice to those who have none. Courageous conversations mean speaking up for the person or group that is not able to tell their story because of obstacles holding them back. Courageous conversations mean speaking up for the oppressed and the forgotten even if that means you face people who fundamentally disagree with your opinions. To me, courageous conversation is dialogue that happens in spite of the fear of rejection. Courage is the act of saying, “This is wrong. How can we fix it?” Courage means action, and action means change.
I believe the written word is one of the most powerful ways to give voice others. Whether we’re writing about victims of racial and religious discrimination, sexual assault victims, or those living in poverty, I believe the written word can open up the eyes of the world to see the issues that go on right in front of us on a daily basis. While courageous conversations have the ability to highlight the darkness that we live in, I also believe that courageous conversations can pull hope out from its hiding place called fear. There is freedom and there is relief that comes from expressing your thoughts and feelings on paper. Whether you’re writing for others or yourself, I believe that seeing the intangible emotions of one’s mind unfold on paper is a freeing experience that offers peace to those who have struggled to understand what they’re feeling.
Courageous conversations are not easy, and often times the issues discussed in these conversations are not resolved after just one conversation. They take place over time; they are revisited, revised, and retold so that the people you speak up for and their stories never lose their place in history. I believe we are in desperate need of courageous conversations. We have fallen into a dangerous world where listening is no longer a part of conversing; we speak, and then we cover our ears in fear of hearing something that challenges our beliefs. Change is only possible when we let courage permeate our conversations so that the world hears the voices that have been pushed aside and ignored.
I encourage you to look around your space, your community and ask yourself “Who are the voiceless around me?” I’ve been asking myself this question for almost two years now. I have realized that sometimes the answer startles me because I realize how long I’ve stayed complacent in my oblivion. Maybe you know the voiceless group you want to help, maybe you don’t. Maybe you feel like you’re a part of a group that has no voice. Whatever you find, my hope is that you will observe, listen, and tell. I hope you tell of the hopes and the fears of those who are voiceless, and I hope you give them voice through whatever medium you choose.
If you’re feeling disheartened, weary, powerless, do not lose hope in the prospect of change and hope. Use your voice for those who have none, and be courageous in whatever conversation you choose to tell.
p.s. A couple of verses that have been a source of comfort to me recently:
Romans 8:37-39: “No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV)
1 John 3:16
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (NIV)
To my friends and family, to my community, to the world:
Courage is not easy, but it is possible, and I am earnestly praying and hoping that we will come to fully understand the true meaning of love.