Words are a responsibility








In writing this blog, as in many other things I do, I regularly call into question my right to speak, to be heard, to air my viewpoint. I understand that it’s my inherent human right and all that, but when I sit back and observe the world, it seems to me that we could all use a bit of sitting quiet for awhile. There is just so much noise out there. And who am I to add more, to think I have anything to offer, anyway?

The fallacy of this kind of thinking hit me hard the other night. I was listening to a CBC Ideas podcast of a religious scholar describing her difficulties in writing a book on spirituality and spiritual practice. Things were not going so well, and she felt deeply discouraged and a fraud: who was she to think she had anything to add to such an important subject?

It was in that moment that the fallacy became so apparent to me.

This was an articulate and brilliant woman, who obviously had a lot to offer. Her doubt was simply normal, human fear and insecurity, and had nothing to do with the value of what she had to say. The mewling of her ego. But it isn’t up to her to judge whether her words are adequate, whether what she has to offer is worthwhile. She possesses a very informed and diligent viewpoint and whatever conclusions she develops, it is up to humanity to parse them for value. To do anything else is simply hiding, and that serves no one.

Now I’m not saying that all voices carry the same value of knowledge and potential; there are a lot of loud ignorant voices out there, and it seems to me the less humility and self reflection, the louder the voices. But words that come from a need to help, a need to inform, and based on rigorous, intelligent thought are always needed.

I’m not saying all of my words fit that description – not by a long shot – but I can say that my motivation is largely to help, to inform, and to inspire. Of course I haven’t always been successful, and different people will get different things out of this screed but my shutting up serves no one. My opinions are based on observation and acquired knowledge, and I try very hard to not let unexamined prejudice seep through unnoticed.

One problem I have with this though, is the problem of responsibility. Many things have happened in my life recently that reveals a potential I have never acknowledged. This is difficult for me, because I’ve always deferred responsibility, preferring a life of freedom. But along with the power of communication comes a responsibility to do so, for the greater good. Part of me wants to flee this new realization, to push away the awareness that arrived with that podcast. I don’t want the burden of that, I want to carry on as before. It is my ego now wanting to hide, wanting to stay small.

But that’s not right, and I know it. Once awareness arrives you can’t push it away, pretend you don’t know what you know. Its the curse of asking questions: you might get an answer you don’t want. I wonder how many of us, deep in our hearts, really prefer to stay small, hidden and unobserved, despite all our proclamations to the contrary?

Part of me wishes I had never seen the damned thing, it’s really challenged my self-concept:

Queen’s Jubilee Medal






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