Lifting One Single Voice Out of the Silence
I was sifting through the Facebook feed on my family account and came across a poem written by Robert Bly in August, 2002, called “Call and Answer.” True to my usual habit, I clicked “like” and “share.” Then, I read the poem again and knew that I just had to say something more, here.
I wonder if I am “lifting” my voice in mourning about what we are losing and what we have lost because it all seems so hopeless. For me, tears are real in seeing the atrocities that are visited upon children, women, and men in the name of some “ism” that manages to convince too many of the justice in bombing and destruction. There is no right side of war when both sides fight in the name of their god. Bob Dylan’s song “With God On Our Side” was one that I sang out loudly in protest against sanctioned murder by any and all armies.
My voice was loud and clear, but who heard anything more than the sound of my voice and the guitar chords? What does it take for ears to be willing to hear the voices that risk speaking from the heart with compassion for all including those we are told are the enemy? Media tells us its lies crafted to have us distrust, to hate, and to hoard from those most in need, even those within our own communities. The volume of the medias messages drown out the individual voices of those who resist falling under the spell of the lies, parading as truths. And should a voice become too loud, a campaign of character assassination or co-opting of that voice with fame and a small fortune soon follows.
So, what is a person to do? For me, it seems relatively simple. Voice rather than silence, even if no one is listening.
I am including a link to Bly reading his poem at the bottom.
Call and Answer – by Robert Bly
Tell me why it is we don’t lift our voices these days
And cry over what is happening. Have you noticed
The plans are made for Iraq and the ice cap is melting?
I say to myself: “Go on, cry. What’s the sense
Of being an adult and having no voice? Cry out!
See who will answer! This is Call and Answer!”
We will have to call especially loud to reach
Our angels, who are hard of hearing; they are hiding
In the jugs of silence filled during our wars.
Have we agreed to so many wars that we can’t
Escape from silence? If we don’t lift our voices, we allow
Others (who are ourselves) to rob the house.
How come we’ve listened to the great criers—Neruda,
Akhmatova, Thoreau, Frederick Douglass—and now
We’re silent as sparrows in the little bushes?
Some masters say our life lasts only seven days.
Where are we in the week? Is it Thursday yet?
Hurry, cry now! Soon Sunday night will come.