I was at a funeral recently, and I lost my voice. That is, I was sure I was singing, but I couldn’t hear myself. Why? The male basses and tenors around me drowned me out. It’s happened before – strong voices overpowering quieter ones. The singing was great, of course, just hard to distinguish anything else. A motorbike, shouting toddler, barking dog, heavy artillery – they would all have been swallowed up into the crowd’s assertive hymns. There was another funeral when I would have welcomed that strength, as I tremulously sang in an otherwise non-singing room. But not this time. As I left the hall, a man walked out the door and pushed it shut again. Right in my face. Now I was not only unheard, I was unseen too.
Last Friday an overwhelming majority of people spoke loudly in favour of a woman’s right to abortion. I found it tricky, as you could rightfully say it is vital to speak up for women, but where does that leave the life they want to get rid of? No-one has been able to make that silent voice recognised, although many have tried. That saddens me.
There are so many examples of quiet, unheard voices; the people that everyone else towers over – wheel-chair users, bench-seekers (!), children, the homeless, the uneducated, to name but a few. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the society we actually see is a clashing, dazzling rainbow of people, each one different to the person beside them? Or if the sounds we hear are the quieter voices of the minority?
I know that’s where I want to be.
So if you can’t help having a louder voice, use it on behalf of somebody who doesn’t.
And bend down to hear them whisper ‘thank-you’.