The Voiceless

WE count the broken lyres that rest
Where the sweet wailing singers slumber,
But o'er their silent sister's breast
The wild-flowers who will stoop to number?
A few can touch the magic string,
And noisy Fame is proud to win them:
Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them!

Nay, grieve not for the dead alone
Whose song has told their hearts' sad story,--
Weep for the voiceless, who have known
The cross without the crown of glory!
Not where Leucadian breezes sweep
O'er Sappho's memory-haunted billow,
But where the glistening night-dews weep
On nameless sorrow's churchyard pillow.

O hearts that break and give no sign
Save whitening lip and fading tresses,
Till Death pours out his longed-for wine
Slow-dropped from Misery's crushing presses,--
If singing breath or echoing chord
To every hidden pang were given,
What endless melodies were poured,
As sad as earth, as sweet as heaven!

Reflections on 'Voice'

My wife and I recently attended a showing of "Rwanda" - an unforgettable and harrowing experience. One of the things that really struck me was the powerlessness of the persecuted Tutsi tribe. The persecuting Hutus described them as 'cockroaches', and what do we do with 'cockroaches'. Crush and kill! They are not people, they have no value, they have no voice which the persecutors paid any attention to.

Scene after scene unfolded of groups of Tutsi's 'de-voiced', disempowered, their cries for pity, protection, and justice went unheard. So they were killed in their hundreds of thousands, women were captured, gang-raped and then murdered. No voice, no power, no influence.

The word 'voice' can be a powerful metaphor for life and the expression of life. Voices like fingerprints, are unique. What is curious is how often people become 'voiceless'. Either they are unable to speak out about their own experience, or needs, or if and when they do, no one listens and no one cares.

Many die with their songs still within them, their voices unheard. Whatever the Creator had intended for their lives has been unrealized - for one reason or another their presence was unwelcome, so they were unheard, their existence never celebrated.

To be without a 'voice' in this sense means absolute disempowerment and invisibility. A wife whose opinion doesn't count with her husband, a frightened child in the presence of an abusive and bullying mother, a man silent as he is abused unfairly by an employer, a minority group in an oppressive society - these all experience 'voicelessness'. Their own unique contribution to the word, their psychological and spiritual fingerprint is not recorded. Few, if any, listen, or care.

To reflect on the lines from the poem above, it is sad to die, but if you have had a voice, you have had some power, some influence, some say in your own existence. But, if you die without a 'voice' you die unheard, unwitnessed. Your existence has counted for very little, if anything.

- I often encounter the 'voiceless' in therapy. Seemingly, no one wants to hear their unique voice, to hear the cry of their soul. Their joys and sorrows are not received by those around them. They have learned to edit their speech in order to be accepted. This censorship of the soul is also its living death.

A man has his dreams, but his wife and his friends are not interested. After a while he ceases to speak of his dreams, and then ceases to dream, and becomes depressed. Why not, it is the nature of 'soul' to speak, to communicate, and one of the greatest gifts we can give another is to 'listen' (in the sense of really hear the soul, the heart, the core).

For me, one of the most frustrating experiences is to not be understood and valued in terms of my authentic, God-given 'voice'. To be accepted only in terms of what others need or expect from me. But whatever is unique about me is deemed to be unacceptable.

Some years ago I was trying to experience my frustration and hurt at how the Church of which I am a part had shut down its counseling agency and persecuted into early retirement its director. I felt quite passionate about the matter, because many people had not been heard about this matter and the lives of hundreds had been deeply affected.

Rather than being heard I was corrected and told that I should be expressing myself in another way. In short, I was silenced, my voice went unheard. The subject was shifted to the grammatical preferences of another more powerful person. And in that context I made no further effort to communicate. There was no point. My song was still-born.

The powerful of this world have their voices heard, the oppressed do not. This happens at macro and micro levels. Between nations, down to family and neighbourhood.

In counseling I sometimes assist a person to find their voice, and to begin to speak, hesitantly at first, and then with ever-increasing certainty until they own their own soul's true voice. This is an uncomfortable journey for one who had learned to be silent, for them as individuals because it is frightening to learn the skill of speaking - and for those around them who are used to speaking for them, or over them, or simply contradicting them.

God, according to the Bible, speaks. He has a voice to which we are to listen. Hearing His voice is life. "If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me." (Rev 3:20). It gives our Creator joy when we hear Him, and grieves Him when we don't. Spiritual intimacy is not possible if we 'do not hear His voice', spiritual guidance is not available, and spiritual death results.

So too between creatures made in the divine image, when we open our hearts to others, and 'hear' their voices, thus welcoming them into our hearts, we in a sense give them life. But when we fail to listen, fail to welcome, choosing intsead to judge and criticize, we devastate the soul which longs for connection, and in a sense impart ... death.

Alternatively, when we attend to the voice of another, not just physically hearing a sound or two, but opening our own hearts to hear their heart, and affirm their right to be here with us, we then impart a blessing, a welcome ... and...life!

David Irwin is the founder of SoulCare - Transformational Counselling and Psychotherapy. David is a minister of religion, a counselling psychologist educator and a well known seminar leader.

David's lifelong passion has been to assist men and women from all walks of life to experience maximum happiness and fulfilment in life. SoulCare's work in bringing about positive change is achieved through transformational counselling for individuals and couples, personal one-on-one coaching and transformational seminars. Details of each of these services are found on his website http://www.soulcare.com.au

In The News:


ABC News

Survey: Asia Finds Money Brings Happiness
ABC News
Levels of self-reported well-being in fast-growing nations like Indonesia, China and Malaysia now rival those in the U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom, rich nations that have long topped the happiness charts, according to a Pew Research Center ...
One Chart Proves Money Really Does Buy Happiness — To a PointMic
Mexicans Are The Happiest People In A New Global SurveyBusiness Insider

all 99 news articles »

Daily Californian

Happiness without pursuit
Daily Californian
My fellow Cal Bears, I just took us through the glorified pursuit of happiness. But I don't blame Thomas Jefferson, Will Smith or Kid Cudi for engraving this phrase in our fragile minds. A system has been put in place. The common steps toward happiness ...


5 Ways Money Can Buy Happiness, Backed by Science
TIME
According to Dan Gilbert, Harvard University psychology professor and author of Stumbling on Happiness, the key is to spend your money on experiences rather than material things. Material things, even if they're expensive or you wanted them badly, tend ...

and more »

Happiness Expert Gretchen Rubin On The Secret To Figuring Out What Makes ...
Huffington Post
The secret to happiness seems easy enough: Just do what makes you happy, right? Sure, but knowing what makes you happy is a lot harder than it sounds. After spending a year doing extensive research and making daily tweaks in her life in hopes of ...


Why doesn't more money mean more happiness? A lot has to do with work ...
The Globe and Mail
Every now and then, a new analysis is published on the relationship between income and what researchers call “subjective well-being” – often measured with questions about happiness or life satisfaction. In the ensuing media buzz, inevitably that age ...
Don't Balance Money and Life, Integrate ThemForbes

all 3 news articles »

Daily Mail

More money DOES make you happier: Britain and other rich nations among ...
Daily Mail
More money does make you happier, with people from rich countries like Britain saying they are happier than citizens of poorer nations. Nearly 60 per cent of people living in the UK rate their happiness as at least a seven out of 10, higher than most ...


The loopholes that help bad habits block happiness
Los Angeles Times
Habits can make or break happiness, says Gretchen Rubin, the author of "The Happiness Project." Habits, she says, are "the invisible architecture of everyday life and a significant element of happiness." The No. 1 habit change that people say makes ...


Parenting Brings Happiness Until The Third Child: The Rollar Coaster Of ...
Medical Daily
"Our results show a temporary and transitory gain in parents' happiness around the birth of first and second children,” the study's lead researcher Mikko Myrskylä, a professor of demography at London School of Economics and director of the Max Planck ...


Money, and a new fridge, can buy happiness – survey
FT.com (registration) (blog)
The results of the survey seem to show a direct relationship between GDP growth and increased happiness. But they also suggest that living in a country that is middle income – not necessarily high income – is what counts for its inhabitants. People in ...


How to Buy Happiness Instead of Selling It
PsychCentral.com (blog)
Life before money was sometimes unbearable. Let's say you had two goats, some homegrown tomatoes, and a sack of salt, and you needed eggs. You would try to find someone who had eggs, but is in dire need of one of the things you have. If it turned out ...

Google News

Self Identity: Who Are You?

Self-identity? Who are you really? We identify with many things,... Read More

Having Fun with Life

It was just a few degrees shy of swimming weather... Read More

Three Inspirations for Happiness

The following three inspirations were adapted from A Daily Dose... Read More

Could Your Thoughts Sabotage Your Happiness? Take This Quiz And Find Out

Women are conditioned to be people pleasers. Women are taught... Read More

Self Confidence, Happiness, and Posture

Our use of body posture plays a key role in... Read More

Simplify - and Be Happy

People's lives today are jam-packed with great projects, ideas, to-do... Read More

Happiness - Cause and Effect

Your reaction to the events around you determines how you... Read More

How Can I Tell What Vibes Im Sending Out?

The Law of Attraction exists in your life right now;... Read More

Looking In The Eyes Of Happiness

From what you see around you in your daily lives,... Read More

Free Tips To Improve Self Confidence

1. DRUNK!At the age of sixteen I was invited out... Read More

Laughter

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."... Read More

Healthy, Wealthy and Happy in 2005

Life is simple. You'd be surprised to know that most... Read More

It Costs Nothing To Smile

I like to be around positive people, people who tend... Read More

Who Is More Likely To Be Happy?

Here's a multiple choice question for you. Who is more... Read More

Shhhhh?

Like enough of the noise awready! Geesh, people?No, I'm not... Read More

Health and Happiness - Self Test

First of all, examine yourself outwardly.Look at your fingernails. Are... Read More

Hanging Out

Right off the top: What is the difference between dating... Read More

You Can?t See Your Own Eyes

My friend called me this morning from her favorite coffee... Read More

Why Do We Feel Happiness?

Although many for us strive for happiness in our daily... Read More

Giving Attention To Happiness

When I left England in 2000 there did not seem... Read More

10 Fun Ways To Live An Enchanted Life Today!

I am often asked how I can live the way... Read More

How To Be Outrageously Happy

You can be as happy as you want whenever you... Read More

Quick Steps On Being Happier

Want to be happier?Edward W. Smith, motivational speaker, author and... Read More

The Elusive Butterfly of Happiness

Are You Chasing the Elusive Butterfly of Happiness?For many people... Read More

Are You Hooked On Love?

When you're in love your eyes and your face light... Read More