Most of us underestimate the potential power of our communication. Motivational author and speaker Paul J. Meyer, who founded Success Motivation Institute, said, “Communication—the human connection—is the key to personal and career success.” It’s when we become more aware of how our communication is impacting others in our lives that we can make real progress in improving our skills and in turn our relationships.
In large part communication involves at least two people in conversation. Even when it involves a leader, educator, or speaker, generally the audience is able to respond, at least in optimal situations. In the U.S., our Constitution provides for free speech in Amendment 1 as follows:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
This comprehensive law entails communication that might even be considered basically one-sided, as in the media, such as radio, TV, and the written word. This gives everyone the right to speak freely, without censorship. Still, we have the right to respond with our own points of view, even when they conflict with one stated by the press, or by a political party, or any group that claims authority over their doctrine or beliefs. Even our right to petition is protected.
These rights, or privileges, that people in other countries don’t always share, charges its citizens with a responsibility to follow our consciences in preserving our freedoms; it’s part of the democratic process.
If we value our freedom and accept our responsibility in maintaining it, it’s up to us to actively engage in any discussion, public or private, by standing up for our rights as individuals. This can apply to any forum: it can mean writing an editorial in reply to a news article or a letter to a TV network, or standing up to a bully in the neighborhood playground.
We have the right, but we also have the choice. We can choose to remain passive, and let the rest of our citizenry decide who will run the nation, or whether we’ll have accessible healthcare, or affordable daycare, or equal pay for equal work. We’re not forced to take an active part in a national discussion or a personal one. But in refusing to participate, we abdicate our power in using our influence for the betterment of society, including measures that will expedite our advancement.
One of my favorite quotes is this one by Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt in both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” What an empowering statement! I love the imagery, too. If you’re a woman reading this, don’t you sometimes feel that you’re wearing two catcher’s mitts, and trying to field every pitch that flies your way? What Angelou was saying, and I’m in total agreement, is that you can empower yourself to defend your own rights, your own freedom, and the happiness you deserve.
As a woman, YOU have a voice, and it’s as important as anyone’s on the planet, as influential as you allow it to be, and as powerful as the courage it takes to express yourself, despite any forces that seem to stand in your way.
Further, in responding to injustice you have another choice: you can respond with anger, or you can use your power for good, and contribute to solutions that will create a better world. Even when your anger is righteous and justified, it will only create more hostility if your limit your right to speak to words of rage and despair.
Every time you communicate with the objective to accomplish acceptance and understanding, you’re building a bridge with other human beings, whether they’re in your geographic community or on the other side of the globe. But when you use words of hatred, you’re burning your bridge, leaving only the ashes of destruction.
Believe in yourself as a force for good. It’s not just the U.S. but the entire world that needs to hear a powerful voice of reason, fairness, and dignity. Right now a large percent of that potential voice isn’t heard—not with the strength and power that it’s been created to project—and that’s the voice of women everywhere!