Speak up, speak out

Musa Mwenye says Zambians shouldn’t underestimate the power of talking.

“Don’t underestimate the power of talking. That’s advocacy. What we are doing is action as well so don’t undervalue this, this is sensitisation and young people should continue to sensitise the public. We are going somewhere, continue talking and acting. There is value in talking,” says Mwenye. We agree.

Humankind’s ability to speak up, speak out has been the bedrock of civilisation. And this is in accordance with biblical teachings. The first verse in the opening chapter of the Gospel of John reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

In life, one of the hardest things you can do, is speak up. It can also be one of the bravest.
Speaking our mind is something everyone struggles with from time to time. It is easy to hide behind someone who loves to talk, let other people take control, and not bring attention to yourself. But there are always situations when speaking up is the most important thing you can do. Situations where certain things need to be said because it is right and good.

When you speak up about an idea or a thought, you’re helping the situation.

It allows us to be happy with ourselves and to move forward with what we love.

Speaking up in certain situations can be positive for promoting awareness. You not only bring new information to people’s attention, but you can also educate people in a positive way.

By speaking up, you can help the person become better, and promote awareness to those who were not aware.

Similar to promoting awareness, speaking up can stop a bully in its tracks. While some aren’t aware of what they’re doing or saying, many people are. People say cruel and offensive things every day, and it’s important that they’re stopped.

Telling off a bully, tyrant enough times may result in him stopping and realising what they’re doing isn’t okay.

The thing people mostly hate about speaking up is the attention. When you do speak up, people do see it and observe. And although it may seem like a bad thing, it’s actually very positive.
Speaking up about an idea, or to tell someone off, or to stick up for yourself, will not only help you, but it will help the others around you. It will inspire them to be brave enough to do the same. Everyone needs role models and by taking the plunge, you can be that role model for countless numbers of people.

Although speaking up can seem scary and even problematic or arrogant, in certain situations it is so important that you speak your mind. It will promote awareness and education, stop bullies, and inspire those around you. Always speak up. You have more of an impact than you think.

It is understandable that a lot of people are afraid of what people will think, or afraid of what someone will do if they find out that you are speaking up. But how are you going to fix a problem if you are not talking about it? Never hush your voice for someone’s comfort. We all need to have the courage to speak up for ourselves and people around us, without being afraid.

If someone is hurting you, let them know. If you don’t speak up when someone abuses or mistreats you, you’re nonverbally giving that person permission to continue to treat you the same way. Do not let the fear of other people’s opinions stop you from speaking your mind. Everyone deserves to be heard. Never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person is at stake. Speaking up could save someone’s life. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. Your words can be used with such great power to support and inspire others, instead of tearing them down.

The strongest force you can have to change the world is speaking up for yourself, and for others when they might not yet have the courage to do so for themselves. When you speak up, do it with an intention, not for attention. There will always be some people who won’t appreciate your opinion, and they might criticise you for it, but if it’s for your good and the common benefit of others, go for it.

Speaking up is an important form of honesty. Silence may seem like the best way to avoid conflict, but maybe sometimes avoiding it isn’t the best thing for you or those around you. The greater good should be the priority. Remember that no one else has your perspective, and speaking up can change someone’s entire life.

There are certainly times we should be silent, but other times we need to get out of our comfort zones and say something.

There is prudence in staying silent at times, but never speaking up about anything at all isn’t prudence — it’s fear.

There are plenty of injustices out there – take your pick of any number of items currently in the news — and perhaps it’s time to make our voice heard on some of them. At a more personal level, it’s important from time to time that our friends, neighbours, and co-workers hear from us, even about small matters that are bothering us, something that doesn’t seem quite right, an issue that needs discussing. Hard conversations are a necessary part of life.

Taking time to think before blurting out a hasty opinion is a virtue, and sometimes if there is no beneficial outcome simply being quiet is the best course of action.

For instance, if someone has no intention of having a fruitful conversation, it’s best to not take the bait.

Other times, though, it’s our duty to speak up. We never know who’s listening or what impact our words might have.

One of the sources of wisdom we have found helpful on speaking up is St Gregory the Great. Gregory was pope in the late 6th century and he was known as a pragmatic, thoughtful man. As a spiritual father, he considered it important to give practical advice for everyday concerns such as finding the proper balance between being too quick to speak up and never speaking up at all.

When we recognize an evil against another person but don’t speak up about it, we are like doctors who refuse to give medicine to a person who has been poisoned.

When an evil is perpetrated against another person, they need all the support they can get. They may not be able to speak up themselves, either because of power dynamics, or being too upset, or lacking in self-confidence. They may think everyone is against them. That is, unless we speak up.
Those who keep silent risk implicating themselves in hidden vices. If we fail to protest against an injustice, we may seem to be agreeing with it. Or, at the least, we are part of the reason it is allowed to continue.

Making clear where we stand is challenging, but if we don’t, people can make all sorts of assumptions about what we really think.

We live in a time when we’re bombarded by news of injustice, strongly-held opinions on controversial topics, and vicious online debates. We’re exposed to gossip and difficult personal conversations. It’s hard to know when to speak up.

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