Maybe this is the year we learn to speak up, tell our story, right the wrongs caused by silence. For hundreds of years’ humankind has been taught that silence is golden and speech is silver. The idea that silence is golden dates back as early as ancient Egypt. Poems and songs have been written with this thought. Parents have taught this to their children, probably just to get some peace. How many times have we heard the quote, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, and we should use them in equal measure”? Wyclif’s Bible, published in 1382, included the quote, “silence is maad in heven (made in heaven).” A now defunct, thank the feminists, proverb in the 16th century was, “silence is a woman’s best garment.” I call shenanigans!
Call me a pot-stirrer, if you want, but might I suggest that this silence thing has gone above and beyond what is healthy for many victims of sexual abuse. Silence has reigned too long regarding racism, sexism, bullying, poverty, homelessness, mental illness, homophobia, genderism and “otherisms.”
Let me be clear, words are sacred. Careless words are instruments of destruction, the adage, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a myth, a false teaching. Teen suicide is rampant in Indiana, bullying is at an all-time high. Words are sacred. And just as words can be used as swords, words can also be used as a healing balm. Tell someone they are beautiful, handsome, kind or any compliment, watch the face, watch the countenance of someone change. Words can either put up a wall, or break down barriers.
The young female gymnasts, who recently came forward to face their abuser, the doctor that was supposed to be protecting them, were given a gift of being able to voice their truth, they had been silenced for far too long. One victim of his committed suicide, others are still in therapy, all because of being unnecessarily silenced, by virtue of shame, money, control, or idea that silence would be better than voicing the atrocities that have forever wounded and changed their lives.
There is a time for everything, according to the prophet who wrote Ecclesiastes. I think we forget this truth. Everything has Its time “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. . . a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecc. 3: 1, 7a-8
It is time for victims of social injustice to speak up. It is time that we, with white privilege, we who live the ‘good life,’ listen to the ones who don’t have it so good.
Noblesville’s Teri Ditslear is a pastor whose column appears Saturdays in The Times. Contact her at pastor@rolcommunity.com, on Facebook or at www.rolcommunity.com