Speak Up!

When I was much younger, speaking up was just not my thing. I grew up in the shadows of older siblings and cousins, so in a sense I never really had a chance to. You could say my lowly status on the “food chain” ensured my opinions, if I even had any, were gobbled up by the other older and higher in rank members of the chain. So, on most days, I simply went along with the flow and honestly, I was perfectly fine with that arrangement. In high school I remember being always scared to say yes and too eager to say no, and when you consider this in the context of protecting one’s honor, that would have been any teenager’s parents’ dream. But it also meant avoiding opportunities of leadership and initiative or just missing out on some wholesome fun. Back then, it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend an entire night at a party sitting on a wall or standing in a corner on the outside of the dance floor, too shy to say yes to an invitation to dance. Thinking back, I realize this was the story of my life. Others might not have seen it that way because I was surrounded by the “in crowd” and was grandfathered into the social circles. But inside I was scared, unsure of myself, and reluctant to completely dive in.

Today I’ve come a long way since the simpler days of the seventies and eighties, and I don’t care much anymore for hiding in anyone’s shadow. In today’s society we all need to speak up. Young people do not have the luxury of being quiet and unheard. Life has gotten so much more urgent, complicated and cynical, it’s no longer okay to keep our mouths shut and just go along with the flow. I know the discourse between people these days have become increasingly uncivil and mean spirited, but there is a big difference between speaking up and being rude. We cannot use this as an excuse for not getting involved. Abdicating our responsibilities, justifying our apathy, or always leaving it up to others to speak up or advocate on our behalf, can sometimes be risky and even downright dangerous. We can’t afford to hide in the shadows of the “dance floor”, instead we have to get out there and “dance” with the rest of them, whether we are invited to or not.

29 thoughts on “Speak Up!

  1. You are so right on the money with this Janice. I think this introvert behavior is not only you, it’s embedded in most of us by our Jamaican culture. It stems from how we were brought up passed down by colonialism. We often taught as a child to be quiet and speak when you are spoken to or when we are taught a certain lesson we tend not to challenge if we think there are inconsistencies to the facts. Knowing what I know now I think this mannerism stifles leadership skills as we tend to have an affinity for someone else to lead us. It’s important to encourage our younger ones to speak up when we feel there is a need to.

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    1. Yes, Tony this “children must be seen and not heard” attitude does stifle initiative and leadership. Thank God people today are of a different mindset. For me, I think I was just too sheltered, so I got lazy and reliant on everyone around me. Our kids are nothing like us Tony, thank God for that.

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  2. I have a situation at the moment as the World Cup in football (soccer) is about to start and everyone here in the UK is talking about it. I’ve been invited to join sweepstakes and so on.

    And I’m a huge football fan, a season ticket holder at my club since I

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  3. Sorry, I pressed enter too soon there – I must have been getting too passionate!

    I was about to say I’ve been a season ticket holder at my club since I was 14. But this forthcoming World Cup is being held in Qatar, and I am taking the moral decision not to get involved at all, including watching any of it. And I’m telling people why, and though people are nodding their heads in agreement at how wrong this competition is, I am the only one taking a moral stance.

    It is a brutal regime seeking to enhance their global reach and many big personalities, including most noticeably David Beckham, are promoting it for big money or taking money for commentating on the tournament.

    So I am going to have to be morally strong and speak up about it, and that doesn’t come naturally as I too am naturally introverted. In a football mad country like the UK and with people at work each day talking about the matches it won’t be easy but it is a test I am determined to come through on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hear you, Paul. Sometimes it’s hard to take a stand especially when it’s on something you love. But believe it or not that how a movement starts, one person at a time. Think about it this way, you are doing it for your moral conscience and I’m sure there are lots of other people out there who feel the same way and are boycotting it too.

      I wish you all the best and hope you manage to stay strong. Remember if you falter a little, you’re only human and Rome wasn’t built in a day 😊!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank-you Janice, I was thinking this morning that this is the way apartheid was conquered, one by one people saying no. So, I agree with all that you say. Appreciate your support, it means a lot.

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  4. I was taught to keep quiet, children seen and not heard generation. Even as an adult, my adoptive mother did not tolerate my opinions or questions. My children and I have a much better relationship, because they were allowed to have a voice as a child. My children have done better and accomplished more, I attribute their successes to not being stifled as a child, and being given a reason for why the answer was “No” instead of “I told you so.” Great article. I am glad you have found your voice and use it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good for you with your kids! It’s a good thing most parents these days encourage their kids to speak up, it really does make a difference. Glad we’ve both found our voices too because hey, we’ve got stuff to say 😊!

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  5. I guess the ‘good old days’ weren’t all that good. I was parented that way for the most part, but by nature I’m not a big talker in large groups. Sometimes I find that our actions holds more volume than our words. My soul gets weary with those who do a lot of talking, but their actions reflect otherwise. As we speak, may our actions mirror our convictions. That too is all a part of ‘speaking up’. Wonderful article! Continue using your voice…💞

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  6. Yep, in this country there’s way too much saying one thing and doing another. I’m afraid though that it’s only going to get worse. Now we need our voices more than ever! Thanks, and keep using yours too.

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