Writer - Researcher - Speaker
Finding Your Voice
WHAT IS 'VOICE’?
Through our voice, we can whisper words of affection or shout warnings to those in danger.
We can admonish, express love, take sides, intimate what we hold most dear and show what we value…
By using our voice, we can support or challenge; call out wrongdoers or shout our outrage at injustice.
Without the outlet of our voice – our thoughts, opinions and perspectives stay hidden – locked away in our hearts and minds: powerless to bring about change – or even the ability to make a connection with others.
Clearly, our voice is so much more than the audible sound we make when we speak … or the words we use.
It is a fundamental part of who we are – an expression of our core identity.
And so when we speak of 'finding our voice' this refers to a renewed confidence in who we are, expressing our identity and speaking up - to share our perspective or to express an opinion.
But the most noble and honourable use of our voice is when we speak up for others …
… to lend our voice to those who have no voice – those who lack any opportunity to speak up about their own situation and to bring about change.
This is a sacred trust…
...and is why the muting of faith in the public square matters.
The Voice of Faith in the Public Square
For reasons outlined here, we know that since the 1960s, the confident voice of secularism has been shaping the terms of public debate, and as a consequence, the voice of faith was not welcome and became hushed.
Now, to risk being controversial or contradictory I believe that this was a good thing! Adjusting your language in order to reason with people in terms they can understand is not only good manners, it’s effective.
It also placed a discipline on faith organisations to consider what their contribution was and to frame it in ways that everyone could understand and without recourse to ‘my faith teaches’ which, to be blunt, is a pointless argument with those who don’t share your faith.
But – somewhere along the line the ‘wellspring’ of the faith contributions got lost… the tone of their voice lost its ‘Divine Register’ * and they became ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’
But does it matter?
If change is happening and people’s lives are improving for the better, does it matter whether God, or His followers, get any of the credit?
On the one hand – no it doesn’t – it’s thrilling when any injustice is righted – no matter who was involved.
When strategizing for future change in other areas, eg: when planning campaigns for social justice, it's just plain daft to ignore any group that could bring leverage, or any value-added to the cause.
It would be like leaving Usain Bolt in the changing rooms when organising a team for a relay race.
No matter how good the others are, you want to assemble the best team possible – especially when the welfare – and lives - of the most vulnerable are at stake.
Therefore I believe it is vital that faith organisations find their voice again and advocate for those least able to speak for themselves.
*I am grateful Nick Spencer of Theos for this phrase – found in ‘The Political Samaritan’ – a great book!