I was nervous and anxious before standing up in front of packed house. I only knew half the people. I wondered what place poetry had in public. A packed bar was about to hear this poet profess his Ph.D. on poverty.
At the release party for Not So Simple, I utilized a blend of rhymes, entertaining teaching, and an attitude of gratitude, I stepped to the mic and spoke my truth; the thought of ‘speaking up’ has been on my mind for some time now.
One of my favorite ideas from Dr. Martin Luther King is that we will not remember the words of our enemies, rather the silence of our friends. On Facebook and other online platforms people have no qualms expressing themselves. Feeling free situated behind their screen. There are too many people speaking; unfortunately, there is not a lot of listening.
With significant social issues, I wonder what the speaking to listening ratio is.
Whether it’s gun laws, immigration, healthcare, or homelessness, when we speak, do we speak in truth? Do we speak consciously, aware of what is coming out of our mouth? Are we curious when we ask questions, or do we seek to steer the other person in a specific direction? Do some keep quiet because they don’t trust their voice? Do some stay silent because they are afraid of engaging in a complex topic?
If we don’t speak up on issues that need to be addressed we will forever be plagued by passiveness.
For a long time, I was afraid to share my poetry. I thought my ideas weren’t strong enough. I thought the same thing with my Happy Friday emails. I knew that at times I would make grammatical errors. And I did. But over the years I’ve tightened up both my ideas and grammar usage while refusing to let the thought of failure force me to stay silent.
I thought about making mistakes before I stepped up to speak at my release. But I had no choice. With a smile and a deep breathe I stood there and hoped for the best. Hope that all the time I spent sharpening my ideas and pouring over data would pay off.
A deep breathe and smile to invoke confidence, an open mind when engaging in conversation , and willingness to speak your truth. That's one recipe for speaking up.
We all have a voice. We can all make our voice heard.
What idea do you want to amplify to others?
Where does your passion live?
When will you speak up?