Just when I thought 2020 was behind me and brighter days were ahead, the US Capitol siege turned that optimism sour. Scenes brought back memories of 1968, a time when it seemed America was coming apart. For those younger than me, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. The Vietnam war was raging. Racial unrest and riots were raging in cities.
I wanted to write about my feeling about this past week’s events. I struggled to find the right words, the right approach, and the right message. How to turn a moment into momentum by Renee Montgomery, WNBA champion was in my inbox this morning. This TEDx Woman talk helped me find my words and message, Watch the talk or read the transcript.
When people feel their voices are not being heard, they have to make it felt.Renee Montgomery, TEDWoman 2020
These words about voices unheard and the need to make unheard voices felt came from a conversation she had with her mother. It led to her exploration of what making it felt means in her life. She left her work, opting-out in her words, and set out to make a positive change in the world.
This past year was about voices not being heard. Black Lives Matter voices, people across the political spectrum, and people with varying views of the pandemic monopolized social media. The election brought it to a dangerous level on January 6. People wanted to make their voices heard. Often their emotions were manifested in angry voices and angrier actions throughout the year.
Renee Montgomery’s message is that each of us needs to be part of making voices felt. She knew that beyond the angry mob mentality of making it felt most of the nation look for and support a positive approach to making it felt.
We all must do what we can do to make it felt. That means engaging in difficult discussions of topics like politics and religion. Most of us remain silent believing that avoidance of these topics makes our life more peaceful and keeps us from offending and possibly losing friendships.
I know the last paragraph is easier said than done. It sounds like words in a be-a-better-person book. It is easier to carry an elephant up a 100-story staircase than to change a person’s opinion in their Facebook post. That is the seemingly impossible challenge we face.
Following the speakers’ advice, it starts with taking small steps. It is being constructive in our words and actions. She challenges us to take the first step to make our voices heard positively. That step may not yield positive change. Know that small steps move you forward from where you were at the start.
Turn moments into momentum. That is what happens when you make it felt positively. You can turn that momentum into anger. You can turn that momentum into positive action. You have 355 days of 2021 ahead. I join Renee Montgomery in challenging you to make your voice felt in your actions every day.