Libyan Challenge to Free Your Voice

Robert V. Taylor

Robert V. Taylor

“For the first time in 42 years my voice is free.” Transformative words from a Libyan freedom protester in Benghazi. That truth is liberating. Her courage to claim her voice is inspiring. This Libyan woman challenges each of us to courageously claim our voice. Your voice is too important to be devalued in any way.

It is no easy simple thing to claim your voice when you live in an oppressive situation.  I remember the courage that it took for those fighting apartheid in South Africa to use their voices to never let go of a vision of freedom, human dignity and oneness that would ultimately triumph over the decades of a system designed to denigrate and deny the humanity of people.

As I began to discover the truth of the violence of apartheid I found it impossible not to speak about what I was experiencing. I was often greeted with, “you’re treading on dangerous ground; you should be quiet!” and “There’s never smoke without fire; the government must know what it’s doing.”

I was discovering that it is often those closest to us who seek to enclose us by offering their bad advice.  Not because they’re bad people, but because when we choose a path to new truths about who we are and others and how to exercise our voice, they feel threatened. 

When we choose to grow on the path of realizing that our voice is part of becoming fully alive, the anxiety level of those who choose to remain in their own enclosures increases.  Ironically, the more you find your own voice, the more insistent those other voices can become. 

It’s tempting to become co-dependent and buy into the bad advice shrouded in soothing tones about our own welfare.  I’m guessing that the Libyan woman along with millions of her fellow citizens knows the raw truth of that. Stories on National Public Radio and CNN certainly point to that.

In a recent workshop one of the participants raised her hand at the end of the day and said to the group, “I’ve had an epiphany I’d like to share.”  Martha said, “I’ve spent years engaged in contemplative practices.  They’ve been a gift to me. But today I’ve felt like a bird breaking out of my shell learning to sing for the first time.”

Martha went on to add, “I’ve always listened for the voice of the Holy somewhere out there” as she gestured with her arms to the space around her. “I’d never imagine what I was missing in the Holy in here” pointing to herself. Smiling she added, “I feel as though I’m beginning to learn a new song.  The notes and the lyrics have always been there but I’ve never paid them any attention.”

Martha, like the Libyan woman, was discovering that her life was at stake in claiming her voice. 

Our circumstances of being enclosed or penned down may be different than that of courageous Libyans.  But like them our own lives are at stake in the courage and choices we make about letting our voice speak or sing. 

Like the Libyan woman, it is a path that usually connects us in a profound way to the voices of others as we break out of enclosures and discover freedom and dignity through new lenses.  This is transformation!

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If you enjoyed this blog you might want to read Egyptian Protesters: Meekness Be Darned! and Dalai Lama – Invitation to Show Up With Compassion

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