Make your voice heard
If there’s anything that I have learned this past year, it is that no minority is as threatened as the minority opinion. Somewhere between the fervent struggle to remain ignorant of real facts and the wild campaign of agenda-pushing propaganda, it has somehow become acceptable to mute a person’s opinion simply if you do not agree with it. If you are exhausted by the relentless attempts by others to silence you, disheartened by society’s silent compliance and tired of regularly having to fight for the rights you are entitled to, I am writing this to remind you that you are not alone, and that you must persevere.
Whether it was the arrest of students standing up against a controversial ambassador at their university, the federal prosecution of a man that resisted government coercion into being a spy against his own community, the violence faced by protesters demonstrating against economic corruption or even a bias claim because of a satirical article poking fun at ludicrous mainstream beliefs, stamping out outlying opinions has become our society’s newest social policy. Since when has silencing out opposition ever been a viable solution for addressing the issues?
The pressure to remain silent, to acquiesce, to be shepherded with the rest of the sheep is at a disappointing high in today’s day and age. But do not be discouraged, for so much effort to quiet you would not be exerted unless you were truly a force. And you are a force. Your voice is a threat; your mind is a weapon; your persistence is ignorance’s undying enemy. You fight to prove your humanity by constantly thinking, constantly questioning, constantly speaking. You don’t allow them to control you when you are constantly seeking. Your quest for knowledge propels you to be among the seeing.
They will try to intimidate you. Do not be afraid. They will try to insult you. Do not be afraid. They will try to smear you. Do not be afraid. They will try to threaten you and coerce you and make you bend. Do not be afraid. Stick your chin out and when they think they have succeeded, make your voice even louder. History has proven time and time again that fear is the weakest political glue.
History has also proven, time and countless times again, that the voice is stronger than any baton, any gun and any missile. It was not violence that ended British imperialism in India — it was voices. It was not violence that carried the American civil rights movement — it was voices. It was not violence that overthrew decades of tyranny in the Middle East — it was voices. In every great leap toward progress throughout humankind, the people have always been most effectively moved by voices.
And let me remind you of how the power of the voice works. First, one lonely voice speaks up, defying fear and ostracism. Then, other voices gain the confidence to speak up. Then, all like-minded voices shed their silence and unite, whether on physical streets, virtual streets or metaphorical ones. Then, change happens. It may take a lot of time for these voices to be heard, but in the end, they are always heard, and it always starts with one.
You have one voice. That is more powerful than any oppressive force or ideology. Do not allow yourself to ever remain silent in the face of oppression. Keep fighting to have that beautiful voice of yours be heard in any and every way possible. Place ink to paper; place voice to microphone; place keystroke to empty blog entry. Whether it is making a statement with a hunger strike or exercising civil disobedience against unjust laws, never remain idle. If you feel like your voice has already been suppressed, I am telling you that it is not too late to resurrect it. If you feel like your voice has never been properly expressed, I am letting you know that it is not too late to make it finally emerge.
If there is anything I have taken away from being a columnist this year, it is that the minority voice is both the biggest threat and the biggest target. And if there is anything I wish that people could take away from my column, it is to always speak up. Always speak up, even if your voice is trembling, your legs are shaking and your palms are sweaty. So long as you keep speaking, you keep living, but the moment you lose your voice, you lose everything.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in Middle Eastern studies and political science with a minor in French.