Taxation without representation was a big deal in the 1760’s and 1770’s. American colonists didn’t have a voice in Parliament. So they fought a war for independence, and created a government they liked better.
Having a voice is still important. Not just in government — in regular life, too. But having a voice is more than having a seat at the table. How often have I been in a meeting where someone was cut off or interrupted? Or allowed to speak, but then dismissed because of their accent or attitude? Or never allowed to speak, because someone else was talking too long or too often, taking much more verbal real estate than they really needed?
In my 20+ years of professional life, I’ve been victim, witness, and guilty of all those listening transgressions. I know how hard it is, when you’re feeling that what you have to say isn’t acknowledged or valued. If you’re feeling strong, you’ll engage, say what you feel needs to be said. But if you’re tired, or have been shut down time and time again, or feel that you’re the only one who has that point of view, you stop talking. At some point, you may not even show up to be seen, much less try to be heard.
Yet if 20+ years of problem-solving meetings have left me with anything, it’s a strong belief that a diversity of voices, a diversity of opinion, will yield the best solution to any problem.
Each of us needs to listen to the message of God to the prophet Ezekiel: “And you, O mortal, do not be afraid of them, … do not be afraid of their words, and do not be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear; for they are a rebellious house.”
So Speak up! You may be Ezekiel. And Listen! You may be the rebellious house. And since at any time, you may be one or the other, make sure that when you speak, you leave room for others to speak. And when you listen, listen to all that is being said.