A Voice for the Voiceless?

Bishop Oscar Romero from the Catholic church in El Salvador said: “Those who have a voice must speak for those who are voiceless.”  By giving people (and here I include all living creatures) a voice, we provide them with the power to express their beliefs. But, social media and the nonprofit sector ensure that all voices are heard.

According to the authoritative Cambridge English Dictionary, the term refers to a group of people that does not have the power or the legal right to express their opinions” There are so many adjectives for the voiceless: destitute, needy, underrepresented, vulnerable, disadvantaged or simply down-and-out. 

In general, terms, let us look at what society commands from us:

  • The South African Constitution, 1996, Chapter 2, The Bill of Rights (10) states.  “Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.”

  • Our icons like Tata Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu lead exemplary lives in the service of their people.  For us, we have big shoes to fill.

  • Religion prescribes as follows: Christianity teaches us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” Islam teaches us that “the best among people is those who serve humankind, and Judaism says that “everyone has a responsibility to help those suffering from poverty, irrespective of the higher being we follow.”

What does Giving the voiceless a voice mean?

So, the voiceless need a voice.  

One must, however, understand that “they” already have a voice.  I use these words in quotation marks because “they” and us” do not exist.  There is only WE.  We all have voices, the voiceless and those who need to stand up.  We can amplify the voices of those who need it on social media platforms.

Here is what we can do:

We can Learn.  Be an active listener and learn from the community you represent.  Respect their boundaries so that your voice does not overpower theirs.  It will enable you to address their unique requirements.

We can tell stories.  The world comprises beautiful stories.  Some make us sad, and others joyful.  Tell them all because it leads to a better understanding of the cause.

We can defend their rights.  The South African Bill of Rights states that “everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.”  We, who have voices, should defend the rights of those who, for a moment, lost theirs.

We can show compassion.  Take initiative and practise random acts of kindness.  An unexpected act of helpfulness (often by a stranger) makes the world a better place.  

We can be Good Samaritans In the religious story, the good Samaritan (they were enemies of the Jews) helps a wounded man who was attacked and left for dead next to the road.  The lesson here is that compassion and helpfulness have no boundaries.   

The Last Word

In the end, our Constitution says, “Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.” We can make their voices heard and remember, do not look down on someone except when you help them up. You can read our Constitution here: https://www.gov.za/documents/constitution-republic-south-africa-1996.