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Voiceless


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They must have all prayed very hard -- family, coworkers, friends, and people who don't like me much -- because I haven't had a case of laryngitis like this in a while! At least the coughing has settled down, and I actually don't feel very sick any more. But seriously, for someone whose life runs pretty much by talking, the past week of squeaks and whispers has been a frustrating one. (Of course, for people who may be less than enthused or inspired by every word that proceeds from my mouth, my predicament may be a welcome respite.)

By far the most frustrating aspect of losing my voice has been the inability of others to hear what I'm trying to say regardless of their effort, or mine. I try calling one of the kids from the top of the stairs, but they don't hear me, (or maybe they just know they can get away with it?) I attempt to answer a question my mom is asking me over the phone, but no matter how hard I try or how many times I repeat what I'm trying to say, she can't hear the answer. I manage to get one question out, hoping whoever-it-is will just tell me the whole story about whatever-it-is I want or need to hear about. But I end up getting a shortened version that raises a whole host of questions I just can't force out of my throat, not even with a crowbar.

Although I know the problem is in my larynx, I feel as if I am experiencing just a little of what it means to live in a world that is deaf. It is a terrible thing to have something to say without the ability to say it in a way that can be heard. I can't avoid asking myself how many truly important things I can't or don't or won't listen to on daily basis. Whose voice is too muffled for me to hear? What earbuds or headphones am I wearing that keep me from hearing others? Who have I disregarded, or stopped trying to hear? Who has given up on me? Taking an honest look, I have to acknowledge that there are voices that need to be heard, and not all of them are on my playlist.

If there is one thing the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade confirms, it is that there are millions of voiceless people. And yes, if a tree falls in the forest it makes a sound whether anyone is there to hear it or not. The fact that our world ignores the violent death of an unplanned-or-otherwise-inconvenient-and-therefore-unwanted fetus, does not mean that he had nothing worthwhile to say. It means that we have chosen not to listen. A child who is never born because she is destroyed before birth does not existentially disappear; she is missing.

Trust me, I get it. It's easy to give up on voices that require something more of us: ones that speak another language, or say something with which we don't agree, or make us -- or others --uncomfortable. That is why there are so many missing voices. That is also why as Church, we are called to make them heard. The catch is that we have to hear them ourselves first.

I think that what society calls "speaking truth to power" begins with hearing the truth, accepting it, and sharing it with others who have also heard it. That is what we will be doing at the Assembly for Life, 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27, at Boston's Faneuil Hall. We will amplify the voices of over 50 million missing children by joining them with our own. We'll commemorate their too-brief lives, and do our part to strengthen the communion of saints between this world and the next. And, we'll recognize together that their lives were cut short by fear, shame, poverty, greed, raw power, self-centeredness, abuse, force and every other reason our culture harbors evil and the death it invariably brings with it.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an inspirational author, speaker, musician and serves as an Associate Children's Editor at Pauline Books and Media.

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