July 29, 2017: Death to Restricted Speech

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Mouth wide shut by Soumyadeep Paul under CC BY 2.0

The anger and hurt that have no words. These are the words that came to me at some point yesterday, while I pondered times of remaining silent in confused agitation after being triggered by some unknown cause. At such times, I feel a flood of seemingly unwarranted judgements come through that are directed both toward myself and others. Not knowing how to deal with this as it occurs, I sit patiently with my confused agitation, allowing it to inform me instead of imposing it upon others.

Reflecting further on this agitated and confused silence, which comes with an inability to speak intelligibly or to make sense of my inner experience, I am reminded of being told in my childhood that “if you don’t have something good to say don’t say anything at all.” Although this generally seems like a good thing, I can also see how this might cause a suppression of speech. In addition, this phrase offers no direction for reconciling the inner thoughts, emotions, or feelings that are currently happening. If you can’t speak or express what’s happening within you, what do you do with all of this when no alternative outlet is offered?

Another related phrase also comes to mind that others may have encountered, which is “don’t speak unless spoken to.” In this case, any form of expression is initially invalid unless specifically requested. This seems to be an even greater form of suppression than the first, with the core of our creative human expression being squelched and subverted. Moreover, this phrase seems to impose limitations on personal autonomy and worthiness as a human being.

In working with my own stifled speech, I found that I needed to acknowledge and allow my anger and frustration to come through. As I did so, I was able to uncover different layers of emotion and the buried source of my agitation. Then, I also found the space for claiming my own space and worth as a human being in relation to my own thoughts, feelings, and emotions about the situations within my life.

After expressing my anger and reestablishing my self-worth, I could more appropriately identify and constructively talk about what needed to be addressed. However, I am also thinking about allowing my creativity to flow even further through some art creation process such as painting. By engaging in creative expression, I hope to release my suppressed voice and find some additional information regarding the deeper sources of my agitation.

But, on this day, I wish to declare for myself the death of restricted speech and the life of skillfully initiated conversation. While doing so, I also invite you to consider where you have been restricted within your own speech, your own autonomy, and your own creativity. When have you wanted to speak out but were denied or otherwise felt unable to raise your voice? What are the deeper causes of this within your life? How can you hold this while also allowing greater openings and less restrictions of your own voice? What will we all be willing to say for ourselves about the creation of our next collective dream together?

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