vox … animo quid dicis

Our voice in an incredibly powerful thing!  Our voice provides a way to share who we are and how we see the world.  It is valuable because with it, we share our ideas, our passions, our convictions and hopefully, our feelings.  I want to be clear about something though… our voice is not merely about making sound!

The power of our voice expressed through how we share our thoughts is an awesome thing.  I don’t mean awesome in the sense of “hey… wow… that’s really great!”   I mean it in terms of being influential and impacting.  When we share our thoughts, whether they be written or spoken, they will have impact!  How the recipient receives what you share through the expression of your voice will depend on many things.  How you choose to make your expressions, your tone of voice, the disposition of the recipient… and the list goes on.

Once we’ve used our voice to share our thought(s), we have no further control.  In fact, even while we conceive our thoughts, no matter how deliberate we are, we have no control over how they will be received.  That said, it is incredibly important to consider carefully what we share.  It is equally important to listen to what others share with us.  This can help to shape our voice in a healthy way.

We can tie ourselves in knots trying to come up with the “politically correct” statement, the aim of which is to be non-injurious to the vast majority.  In many cases, in the interest of political correctness, the message gets watered down and the fundamental truth in the thought is lost.  Unfortunately, that may leave us guessing at what a politically correct statement is actually trying to say.  It may leave us searching through carefully crafted rhetoric and ambiguity for what the intended message is instead of actually receiving the intended thought and potentially learning something (whether we agree with it or not)!  I could go on and on about this, but political correctness is not the point I want to make today.  Sharing our voice should be about an expression of truth and should also seek to cause provoked consideration and maybe even self-examination.  It should not lead to situations which cause the recipient to feel pain (unless the pain suffered is the result of a realization of truth which hopefully causes a new healthy self-awareness and growth).

I’m talking about using our voice when saying things like “she looks like a whale”, “he’s a wimp”, or “what an idiot”.  Opinion is important of course, but how you choose to share that opinion is a part of your voice.  Just because an opinion varies from yours doesn’t give you the right to demean or attempt to silence someone.  Even more, it absolutely doesn’t give you the right to viciously malign anyone.

There have been quite a few things I’ve noticed this last week which have both challenged and saddened me.  I’ve seen a significant number of people make expressions steeped in ignorance because they are unaware of a situation or topic and are only expressing their opinion based on their finite understanding of that given situation.  An example of this might be like saying “Ford sucks”, just because you’ve only known GM!  I’ve seen people get angry and venomous because someone was using their voice to try to inspire thought and discussion.  Yet, because of pre-disposition, the need for political correctness and to maintain the status quo, that voice was all but silenced and an important societal foundation was muted!

Many of us throw our opinions around like they are law!  Well…. Here’s a newsflash, they aren’t, but your voice will still have an impact!  Consider your words carefully because they can hurt or in an instant, change dramatically how someone perceives you.  I have to remember and apply this in my life because I’m highly opinionated and outspoken.  I think a great deal and like to share my thoughts, but not only because I feel I’ve something to say.  I share what I think because I am interested in perspective…. the perspective of others on what my thoughts provoke in them.  In part, it’s how I process information and learn.    Voicing my opinion and discussing my thoughts causes me to really think about what I think for two reasons.  What you to think when you hear me share what is in my mind and also, hearing myself voice the thoughts in my head and also the way in which I choose to share them.

When you must resort to demeaning someone when sharing your voice, I think you need to ask yourself why.  What about what you’re trying to say causes you to need to demean or manipulate someone with harsh or condemning words?  Are you fully informed on the subject you’re feeling challenged by or have you always driven a GM?  If a dissenting opinion shared by someone else frustrates you… have you asked yourself why you’re frustrated by what you’ve heard?  Do you understand what frustration is?  Frustration is the inability to control a situation to an outcome that YOU would have!  Sounds pretty self-serving doesn’t it… well, that’s because it is.  Sometimes though, frustration can be a good thing… especially when it causes you to rail against tyranny or oppression.

We also have to guard against feeling injured by someone’s voice because of our own insecurities.  Sometimes, no matter how politely someone shares a thought, it will not be taken as intended.  And sometimes… it’s not about us at all!  People don’t think about us nearly as much as we think they do and so, we might mistake a thought as being directed toward us specifically when it wasn’t about us at all.

The internet has changed our society and sadly, I think in a societal context, it’s been changed for the worse.  We can easily hide anonymously behind a keyboard and monitor if we choose, and spew some of the most horrible thoughts and language without any idea of the impact that our voice causes.  More and more, I see this stemming into daily life.  What’s wrong with us?  It’s not ok to be rude just because you don’t agree with something or like something.  I also believe things have gotten to a point where I think it’s causing many people to feel afraid to take a stand on anything for the sake of political correctness (I’m going to limit this to much of western culture).    We need to get back to some core values and be unafraid to live them, but we also must learn to voice those ideas with consideration and respect.   We can learn from fear and ignorance but we must speak and act with wisdom and truth.

I guess it all boils down to… if you can’t say something kindly and respectfully… keep it to yourself!

Have a great day folks….

T

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Life, choice and attitude!

Well… Here I am, almost six months on in my new home and community and I have to say, it’s not been an easy transition!  After the furor of packing (thanks Liz and Bryanna), moving and the newness of a new home and community have worn off, I was left with what I thought was just me.  While in part, that was true, there was a bit more to the story; or so at least, that I’ve recently discovered.

Self-pity… it’s not something I’ve fallen into the clutches of for the majority of my adult life, but it has happened from time to time.  Very recently too which is why I’m writing this today.

A friend of mine recently tweeted “Don’t let self pity get the upper hand… Instead of sinking into doom and gloom, encourage urself!”  Fortunately, my attitude about life has over the past month, found me in a much healthier and happier state of mind.  The statement in this tweet however, reminded me of where I was a just a short while ago and what my attitude toward life was like.

If we have the privilege of knowing each other personally, you know… we’ve hung out, you’ve probably come to know that there are a few things that motivate me.  I’ve discovered that one of my greatest motivators and sources of value is service.  I always thought it was being around people, but I’ve come to learn that isn’t the case.  Of course, people are a part of that process, as is the feedback I receive from them, but that’s not what fries my bacon!  Service is!  Giving and enjoying the journey while making an effort or serving, is a huge part of what fuels my human fire.  I came to realize though, that I somehow managed to remove myself from that process.  Many friends said… you’re uprooting your whole life… give yourself a break… your path will come in time and you will find your way.  I guess I figured to a degree, that gave me an excuse of sorts in that I needed time to acclimate and connect with my new community.  Instead, I found that I had taken myself further away from any connection or opportunity for service.  I had begun the process of wallowing.   I just didn’t realize it because I started in the shallow end and slowly let myself get comfortable swimming in the cold water!

Sometimes, we need “down time”.  We need a period of rest and time alone, but that shouldn’t be at the expense of our community and service or whatever our life drivers or motivators are.  Of course, I needed the opportunity to see where I can be a part of service in and to my community, but I also discovered something else that is very important.  I discovered that I needed to serve myself to a degree.  I thought that meant making a home, resting and taking time for me, but what a very good friend of mine reminded me of was key in turning my cycle of self-pity around.

As I said… service is a big value component in my life, but something that goes alongside it for me is gratitude!  I have so very much to be grateful for and I’m not talking just about the big stuff like an incredible home, living 200 meters away from mountains (which also happen to be my backdrop).  I’m talking about simple things like having plenty of food!  A great career!  Wonderful and giving family and friends.  The ability to hear and see the Canada Geese as they fly overhead while I write this to you.  The smell of fresh air!  I am truly blessed!  There are people who lay suffering in whatever circumstance life has brought them to and who would love to say… “I can sit outside, smell the fresh air, sip on my coffee and listen to the birds!”  The ironic part is that I’ve seen many of those same people expressing their gratitude for what they have in their less than ideal circumstance!  Gratitude is a choice of attitude!

Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that there is so much more to life than what is happening around us and to us!  I have nothing to complain about and yet, I do and I know I will continue to, but there’s a big difference for me now.  I’m reminded!  I’m reminded because I have chosen to make myself aware.

I lost touch with my gratitude somewhere along the way.  For years, I used to always talk about how blessed I am and how fortunate I am that I get to live the life I do!  What a revelation it was that in the unfolding of the choices I’ve deliberately made to start this new part of my life… choices that have brought me to a beautiful new home, new friendships, a new community and affirmation of the friendships I’ve been blessed with for many years; I’d lost touch with the simple pleasures in life and the gratitude for them that I should have been acknowledging.  I’m right now, sitting on my deck with the sun just peeking around a tree and the mountain scape it overlooks and I’m reminded of what I have!  I have plenty!  I have the love and acceptance of great and loving family and friends and I more than anything else, I have the Love and acceptance of God!

Gratitude is a choice of attitude!  Damn straight it is!  So… in that knowledge, I want to say thank you to my friends and family who have been so patient with me during this new part of my life.  Sometimes, we need to bump along the hallways of life to find our way… and sometimes, we need someone to turn on a small light!

I wish you were here with me right now… the air smells like I’m camping by a stream in the pine forests of British Columbia… what’s wild is… that’s where I currently live.  Now, I’m just going to give myself the opportunity to enjoy what I have and more importantly, to be grateful for it!  So in that spirit… rather than just looking at the mountain I call beautiful, I decided to get off of my ass and climb it!

Thank you, for being willing to hang out with me and for flipping the light switch from time to time!

I’m giving the last words to a very wise man who wrote some things which have long been on my Facebook page… I’m glad I finally came to my senses and started to live them again!

“I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there is no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.”

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”

-Chuck Swindoll