Voice is Courage to Speak

Here comes mid-October and another Blog Action Day with another seemingly broad and general topic for bloggers around the world to dwell upon. This year we are supposed to exchange our thoughts on raising our voice and letting it be heard. Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it?

The thing is, voice is such a simple yet complex thing. No, when I say complex I do not mean all those phonetic, articulatory, and functional aspects that I was supposed to tell my students about last night (if those students had come). Voice is only the courage of sounding your thoughts, that’s all. You see how simple yet complex it is at the same time.

There is nothing easier than saying the words that are on our minds unless you have some speech difficulty. We spill out tons of irrelevant information, useless crap, and pure obscenities mixed with such stream of consciousness that only a true fan or friend can tolerate. Nothing can stop us sometimes from telling the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, and even more than the truth. The spoken word is associated with a quick sparrow in the Russian saying “Word is not a sparrow, once it leaves the nest there’s no catching it”.

At the same time, there is nothing more difficult than saying the words that are on our minds, even when no speech difficulty stands in the way. Truth can be killing. The whole truth can be obliterating. Nothing but the truth is simply dull. We are constrained by conventionalities, friendly ties, decorum, and this thing called censorship. So, no matter if we speak about voicing our thoughts among friends or within the society there might be quite many limitations to what can actually be said.

Bloggers usually say more than the rest of us. It is in their nature to speak and speak freely. Otherwise, those people would not become bloggers. No matter whether they say truth or lies, whether they voice their own ideas or just lend their mouths to someone else bloggers have become the speaking part of the society, especially such a society where free media have lost the free part of them.

It is rather amusing to see how in Russia the media have lost their independence then witnessed this independence and energy shift to the blogosphere, then tried to make use of this blogosphere (to a limit). The thing is that to a large extent you can still become a well-known blogger in Russia, draw attention from a crowd of loyal readers, and then get in the bigger spotlight when companies and government/municipal bodies listen to you and try to seek your cooperation (in some cases if only to mute your voice). It is such a bizarre reality where freedom of speech is not there but it is there, you just have to find it.

Many naive persons, including me, once used to say that bloggers are power. But even when I wrote it for one of the previous Blog Action Days I realized how much of a stretch such a statement was. Yet I can still repeat it now. In the online world where boundaries between traditional media and new ones are blurred (and we all live online nowadays), you never know whose voice will be stronger and more powerful in all those little or big cases of our personal interest.

This road is not easy. It is crisscrossed with pitfalls and barbed-wire fences. Some people manage to tread cautiously and almost unaffected, while others get seriously hurt either emotionally or physically or both. Remember I said that the voice is courage. Not all of us are ready to find one facing a fist, a police warrant, a call from the national security, horrible lies publicly thrown at your face, or even dead silence.

It makes me wonder, can it be that if more and more people start speaking freely, raising their voices, and voicing their concerns, then the world (however local) start listening and taking action, or will the good voices be drowned in the sea of mediocrity and irrelevance? Also, if more and more people in a given society or country have the courage to speak freely about what is happening around will those societies gradually change to better or at least freer ones?

Therefore, my advice is to practise and be bold enough to speak. You never know if your voice is beautiful, strong, powerful, attractive until you let it fly. It may take some time and exercise, you may even fail or lose control (remember the sparrow?) but this is the only way to know for sure and say that you at least tried and not just kept your voice within. You never know where your voice leads you – just let it speak and master it along the way. Then someday you may wake up and learn or realize that your voice has given wonderful fruit.