I Must Speak: A Time to Break Silence #2

In the process of updating my blogs’ categories and tags, I noticed that I omitted one posting from my series on A Time to Break Silence. And not just a random one, but my most personal blog about the topic.  Mistake? Freudian blip? What should I do–just ignore it, add it in to part #3 or send it out now even though it is out of sequence? Obviously, I decided on the latter. Life isn’t always neat and in the right order…

It is terrifying to speak knowing that my vision is limited. I don’t want to appear stupid or insensitive or disrespectful.

Sometime I blurt things out. Come on too strong. Get emotional. Exaggerate.

Big emotions scare me. I resonate with Dr. King:

“… some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night

 have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony,

but we must speak.

We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision,

but we must speak.”

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.*

“The calling to speak is often a vocation of agony” for me. Yet I was called to write a book about the hot topics of race, class and gender. I know much more about myself and the world around me than I did years ago. Yet, I still have limited vision.

These fears that bang around inside of me had me quiet for far too long. Since I care about our world, quiet is a luxury I can no longer afford. The times call for us all to step into the fullness of our sight and to speak our dreams and visions of situations where actions and beliefs are out of alignment with that dream.

The challenge goes beyond merely knowing that I must speak what is true for me. I must also take responsibility for what I say and how I say it. Venting my frustration or anger may be needed in preparation for speaking—taking the time to process with a close friend as I work toward my own clarity, for example—but it rarely helps move a conversation forward to speak from my initial emotional reaction.

I need to remember what I know. About myself. About the bigger partnership I seek with individuals and with generations to follow me. About the spirit at the heart of the other, even people with whom I disagree. I want my words to be in line with my own spirit and my vision for myself and the world around me.

What does it mean for me to be in true partnership with myself, with others, with my nation, with generations now and those to come?  What is my responsibility to be in conversation, to stop ancient patterns of disrespect or assumptions or behaviors that are part of the power dynamic or beliefs that have done so much damage over the generations?

Now is a time to break silence. Not in the abstract, but daily, speaking what is true for me, always remembering the deeper love that undergirds my life’s work.

Second in a series honoring *Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Beyond Vietnam–A Time to Break Silence, Delivered April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, New York City. The next in the series is titled “Race, Class and Violence.”

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