In my work as a psychotherapist, I work tirelessly to help people either birth or reclaim their voices. It’s not that they can’t speak. It’s that they are unable to speak up – for themselves, for someone they love, or for something they believe in.
Perhaps that ability was squashed when they were babies, before they barely birthed and found their own voices – literally and emotionally. When they cried – the way babies speak – someone was triggered by their crying and got frustrated, angry, or even abusive. Or perhaps they were two years old, saying ‘no’ as a way of finding their individuated, own unique selves, and again, someone was evoked by their expressing themselves. That adult someone mistakenly thought the child was trying to control him or her and decided “I’ll show them who’s boss.”
Children can be scared out of using their voice – out of speaking their minds and their hearts – by the threat or actuality of attack or abandonment. When that happens, the work of healing to use their voice is deep, touching, and very real.
In thirty plus years doing this work, I would say every single person I’ve worked with has experienced this wound and needed to do the healing to have and be able to use their voice well and without abusing it. Not because these people were sick, but because they were wounded in relation to their own voices.
Watching our country over the past years, I would say many, many citizens in our country are suffering from the same wound. Some who don’t speak up when they need to. And some who speak up so abrasively, even so abusively that you might mistakenly think they had no problem with their voice at all.
This shows up in our elections. It shows up in our disagreements about important controversial issues such as healthcare, a woman’s right to choose what happens with her body, and prejudice about people who are different from us. And most recently, it is showing up in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision that a corporation has a voice – a limitless voice – through unlimited use of its money to fund campaign ads for candidates of its choice.*
It is bizarre to give a corporation voice that in the constitution was meant for human beings. It is bizarre to give a corporation such unlimited voice in elections, and especially under the guise of protecting first amendment rights to freedom of speech. That in itself will likely squash people’s individual voices, especially those of politicians running for office. That is one of the potential consequences of this decision. But that’s not the voice I’m most concerned about today.
Today I’m concerned that I haven’t heard enough voices of individual citizens expressing themselves about this ruling. Usually when something that has this much impact occurs, many of my clients talk about it in sessions. They discuss their feelings about it, and they explore what it brings up in them. Something it would serve us all to do. Very very few are exploring this event. My colleagues usually speak up about something like this . . . I’m not hearing any talk about this other than passing comments right after the decision.
And I’m concerned that I’m not hearing or reading very much about it in the media. It hasn’t come up on my internet news page since the day after the decision. And I haven’t heard it on the news to which I’ve listened since that same day.
I shudder to think what such voicelessness can create in our country.
Actually, I shudder to think what voicelessness created an environment in our country in which such a ruling could be made and people would be quiet about it.
We have a lot of healing to do to move from being a voiceless people to a people who will and do use our precious voices to speak up for truth and justice . . . consistently, effectively, and impactfully.
Where is your voice?
*From MSNBC: “In a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down laws that banned corporations from using their own money to support or oppose candidates for public office. By a 5-4 vote, the court overturned federal laws, in effect for decades, that prevented corporations from using their profits to buy political campaign ads.”
(c) Judith Barr, 2010