Saturday, June 25, 2022

#176 / More Thoughts On The Voice Project


I have written before about the "Voice Project." My blog posting didn't actually use that phrase in the title, though. Instead, I called my blog posting, "Talking To Yourself (Out Loud)."
The "Voice Project" was a special program at Stanford University, when I was there, which was intended to help students become better writers. I wasn't admitted to the program, but I did get the main point, which is that we become better writers when we read what we have written back to ourselves, out loud. I have followed that formula since my college days, and I think that the "Voice Project" was right on target, as a program to support better writing.

Just recently, I received a bulletin from Donna Bailey, who publishes a Substack blog entitled, Words from Donna's Big Red Chair. Donna is both "a life coach and a writer," and a cancer survivor, too. Donna used to live in Monterey County, which is when I had the good fortune to make her acquaintance. I have included a photograph of Donna at the bottom of this blog posting.
When I read what Donna had to say, I realized that there is a completely different kind of "Voice Project." Bailey's recent column, from her blog, which is reproduced below, makes clear this other meaning. 

We each have a voice. We need to use them!
That's The "Voice Project" We Need To Undertake.

Words from Donna's Big Red Chair
I’ve been thinking a lot these past few years about my legacy. Cancer brings this to you, laying it at your feet almost every day. I’m both grateful about that, and some days, frightened when I think of what that word means.

As most of you know, I recently published a book, Just Outside Your Window, that I hope is bringing many of you some insight, hope and joy. Every few days, I pull that book out because there’s something in it I need to hear myself say to ME. Often, it makes me wonder if I had to pick one of the writes, or list them in order of importance, what would be my number one pick. And I think this week, I found it.

Talking with one of my health care team last week, she was really upset about something that had happened to one of her children at school. She wanted to speak up, not in an angry way, but to help the teacher understand why her child didn’t do well. But she said, “I don’t know if I should do that.” And at that moment, I realized how often we silence our voices rather than use them. The outcome of speaking up can be varied. Perhaps, initially, we will meet resistance. Someone may, for the first time, see something in a way he/she never has before. Change for the good of others may result.

What is this fear that most of us share about using our voices? Is it fear of conflict? Fear of the power of our voices? Perhaps, being afraid of what others will think of us?

And what is the price of being mute, swallowing our words and feelings, and keeping the peace of the world outside us, while living with the havoc that not speaking our truth does to our body and soul? And what’s worse…how will change ever happen until we all learn to free our voice? Yes, sometimes in the complete silence of marking our ballots, and at other times, raising them in moral outrage.

Without our voices, there can never be change. Our relationships won’t grow sweeter. Institutions won’t change. Others will never really know the real us.

Until and unless we all begin to practice using these precious and unique voices of ours, we cannot hope for changing a world desperately needing what we all have to offer (emphasis added).

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