Who Hears Your Voice?

There is a lot of unrest in America — and indeed, throughout the world — and much of it seems to stem from people feeling that their voice is not being heard.

The most recent example of this is the protests springing up around the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death has sparked protests against police brutality of black men, and African-American communities are demanding to be heard.

This is hardly the only example, however.

Recently, there were anti-lockdown protests in a number of cities. Many of those protesters also complained about not being heard by state or local officials.

Also, women have been more and more frustrated that their voices are not included when decisions are made about women’s health. Many decision-making groups are made up of mostly or all men. As a result, the female voice is absent.

Many rural residents feel that financial and regulatory decisions are increasingly made in cities, for cities. The interests, needs, and wants of rural constituents, they feel, are not included.

All of these examples have led to political and social unrest. People who feel they are unheard grow more frustrated. As a result, they become more insistent that leaders listen to them. That can take the form of protests, boycotts, intimidation, threats, or violence.

Do you share these feelings of voicelessness? In your life, who hears your voice? Your city, state, or federal governmental representative? Your friends and family? What about your boss, or your union representative? How about a religious leader?

Being heard, or at least the feeling of being heard, can be extremely powerful. Do you receive that in your life? Where?

Related questions: Whose voice do you hear? What is your voice? What makes a community? How can we encourage debate?

How Do You Want This To Change You?

There are many questions that arise due to the pandemic and our efforts to deal with it. One question that I have not seen much of yet: How do you want this to change you?

The Opportunity

While the reasons for it are regrettable (for some heartbreaking), we live in a time of remarkable opportunity. Our normal, daily routine has been completely upended. Moreover, we don’t know when things will change, or what the end state of our world will be.

This means we have a chance to have a larger impact on our own future lives, and the future condition of our entire society right now.

Think back to before self-isolation started, before schools were closed and people started wearing masks. The thought of making changes, on an individual or collective level, was daunting to say the least. Could you imagine not driving everywhere all the time? Could you imagine working from home?

But now we see what kind of change is possible, if we want it enough and agree to make it happen. For instance, massive, structural changes to address climate change is possible. Evictions can be stopped. Paid sick leave, universal health care, and working from home can be done.

Making Change

But in order for those things, or others, to happen, we have to want them and be willing to change our behaviors in order to make them happen. We have to convince our elected leaders we want these things. And if we are told they aren’t possible, we know that’s simply not true, because we have seen them happen when the need is great enough.

All this change has to start at the individual level. How do you want your life to change? Before life goes back to pre-pandemic behavior, spend some time thinking about what it is that is truly important to you. What have you learned about yourself, your community, and larger society?

Related questions: Are there unexpected benefits to what we are going through? How have you changed? How have we changed? Can people change?

Division Or Unity?

Politically, it seems the two parties are farther apart than ever. And yet, with the pandemic, there are amazing stories of generosity and kindness. Which do you see more of in our country right now, division or unity?

Share why if you wish.

Division Or Unity?

What Does It Mean To Be Patriotic?

We often see calls to be patriotic, particularly in a political context. It is important, after all to love the country that you live in.

But what does it mean to love a country? Does it mean to love, unconditionally, everything about that country?

Of course not. The history of any country is bound to contain acts and events that are not to be loved or celebrated. Just as every country is certain to have things that inspire pride.

Some people think patriotism is defined by physical demonstrations. These might include displaying a flag or the country’s colors, reciting a pledge of allegiance, or standing at attention for the national anthem. After all, if you don’t outwardly show love of country, how else might you show it?

Others think that a unified front is important, particularly in the presence of outsiders. Demonstrations against national behavior, criticism of national leaders, and displays of disrespect to a country’s symbols are often seen as unpatriotic.

But is that true? How do I register my displeasure if my country is not acting the way I think it should act? How are individuals supposed to voice their displeasure with the country’s leaders or policies?

In a democratic society, they can vote, of course. But voting only takes place every so often. So what to do in between voting?

There are people who are public servants. People who serve in the armed forces, who run for office, or who work at the local, state, or federal levels of the government. Some people campaign for, or donate to, candidates that they like, or who feel they are represented by.

So what, exactly, is patriotism? Is it celebrating your country’s independence day? Or support of your armed forces, in particular veterans? Is it outward displays? Or is it what is within your heart? What does it mean to be patriotic?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? What makes a place feel like home? Where does authority come from? How important is respect? Freedom or security?