What My Voice Is For…

I’ve been thinking more about my voice and how this blog can reflect it.  My voice is something very important because it reveals what it’s my heart. The passions of people’s heart vary from person to person, so what does my voice declare? What does it show about my heart? What do I speak about confidently, authoritatively, and passionately?

Have you seen the Oscar nominated movie The King’s Speech yet? It’s about a guy who has a speech impediment and has to find his voice… the voice of a King. Ultimately he inspired a nation in the midst of a terrible conflict. My good friend and blogger Jeff Goins recently wrote that “You Have a Voice,” in which he empowers people to start speaking up.

All of this, on top of some good teaching and instruction from mentors, has me thinking about the story I should tell. If I’m honest, I haven’t settled this down quite yet, but something clicked tonight and I thought I would at least start here.

When I was very young my dad would tell me bedtime stories. They were rarely you’re typical candy-land, princess, knights, and castle kind of tales. Dad’s a big history buff, and while others heard tales of pirates and treasures in Never Never Land, I was listening to the strategies and mistakes of Gettysburg, the science of the theory of relativity, and the details of the massive power of the atomic bombs that hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There was a giant, red book of World War II pictures from Time Magazine that dad would use to illustrate his stories. Early on I had a head knowledge of what man was capable of doing to one another and my heart broke. It broke first for the Jews that suffered under the Nazi’s in WWII. I remember the pictures of bodies piled up as the Nazi’s emptied the gas chambers, and the thin and pale bodies of the living, holding onto a fence, staring blankly back into the camera.

In fourth grade my teacher had us read Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry. It’s the story of a young Danish girl whose family hides and protects a Jewish family. As a part of the class, a Holocaust survivor came to our class to tell her story of living in a concentration camp and her miraculous escape as the Nazi’s marched the prisoners deeper into Germany to escape the liberation of the Soviet’s.

I’ll never forget her story.

At the age of nine, the story, atrocity, pain, and injustice… it disturbed something deep in my soul. As I’ve grown older I’ve learned of other such stories and each has had the same effect on my heart.

I read the story of Loung Ung in her biography, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. She lived through the Cambodian genocide at the hands of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Approximately 2 million people were killed, and doctors, lawyers, teachers and other educated figures were targeted for execution. Ung tells of her family’s starvation, forced labor, and ultimate sacrifice. She was even trained as a child soldier to fight for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.

In 2009 I had the chance to go to Cambodia and visit the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng prison. The tower of skulls, the strips of cloth from pants and shirts littering the sunken graves, and the torture devices were real and tangible. I remember thinking that their memorial and way of remembering was not the sanitized and polished memorials we erect here in the US. It’s raw and fresh and real. (Read my story about this trip: Walking Through History)

In the movie Hotel Rwanda you hear about the tribal battles and hatred that brought 800,000 people to their deaths. I found out about the current mysterious happenings and cruelties behind the veil of Kim Jung-Il in North Korea via Lisa Ling’s National Geographic Special.

Finally, tonight I got to hear first-hand the story of one of the Invisible Children of Uganda as they fled Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army and how he ultimately lost his parents.

Again, my heart breaks. These are the real-life experiences that I find are happening around the world and shake my soul. Do you want to know what’s unacceptable to me? Kids being trained as child soldiers, families being separated by hatred and fighting, villages living in constant fear without the hope of rescue or aid…

and the world continuing on with normal life, oblivious to the pain, hurt, and hopelessness.

My voice MUST speak out about genocide, injustice, and hatred. I can’t continue to whine about circumstances in my life that pale in comparison to the realities of so many around the world. These people can’t afford to have their stories only grace the ticker on the bottom of our TV screens on the nightly news. What I share here can push the truth, the reality, and the humanity of their stories to the forefront of somebody’s heart and mind. I can use my voice to call forth an army of people who will fight against injustice and stand up yelling, “this is not okay!”

As I dive deeper into the specifics of my voice and my passions, know that you’ll hear more stories like those of the Invisible Children in Uganda.

I’ve got something to say and it just might be about genocide and injustice. Stay tuned.

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6 thoughts on “What My Voice Is For…

    • Thanks Jeff! Your blog was awesome and thought-provoking. I’m just now getting some of those thoughts out, but a big part of it started with your words. So thanks for sharing!

      • You’re welcome!

        Per my post today on living a better story, I think you’re one of those people whose life is already a compelling tale. Now, the trick is telling it.

  1. I love this Ashley. You did a great job communicating the progression of how all of this has started to be stirred in you….even from bedtime stories 🙂

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