I was surprised at the turnout. I was surprised at the number of speakers wanting to be heard. I was surprised at the eloquence of some, surprised at the depth of emotion in others. The news hadn’t led me to believe that the community cared this much about the closing of their school. But here was the evidence right in front of me. With every impassioned speech I was more convinced of the support for public education in this community. But was anybody listening?
Those in positions of power sat on the stage above us, separated from and looking down on the rest of us, including the speakers as they spoke. As speaker followed speaker, the audience was engaged and responsive, clapping often and loudly to show our support and rising to our feet on one occasion. We were listening intently to every word. But were the people with the power on the podium similarly engaged? It was hard to tell. I could only hope that they were hearing more than the words spoken before them. I was hoping they were hearing the hearts of those individuals who had the courage to speak out.
You see, this wasn’t the first such meeting about this issue. In fact, it was to be the last. A last chance for those of us in the community who are impacted by the school’s closing to let our voices and our wishes be heard. But will it make a difference? We like to think that we can make a difference where we live. We like to think that we have a voice in the issues that directly affect our daily lives, such as public school closings. After all, we are the taxpayers. These decisions determine how our money is being spent. Shouldn’t we have a say in the spending of our own money?
We each want to feel that we have been heard. We want to know that our voice matters, that our voice makes a difference. If not, we feel powerless to affect change in our communities. Powerlessness leads to frustration and frustration leads to apathy in time. (or to violence) If no one is listening, what reason is there to speak out? We give up. But that is never a good solution.
As I sat in the auditorium this night the question uppermost on my mind was this. Was this public meeting merely a formality to give the appearance of doing due diligence in seeking community input before a final decision is made? Are they just going through the motions that the law requires? Were their minds made up at some point long before this public process began? As I watched the meeting unfold, I knew the people with the power on the podium were hearing the words, but were they listening? Were they truly listening with open minds? or had their minds long been made up and closed shut?
Were we just voices in the wilderness, crying out to no avail? Is anybody listening? I felt the impassioned words of the speakers were falling on deaf ears and closed minds. Their pleas losing their power, left unheeded and unacknowledged. So many voices crying out in succession. I could hear the emotion behind the words, the fears and the hopes attached to them. Could they? I was listening with my heart as well as my head, both open, were they? These were real people before them with names and faces and families. Were the people on the podium hearing their words or just noise, random voices in the wilderness that have no significance and no meaning.
It’s a terrible thing to feel you are not heard and therefore you do not matter. We all want to matter. I’m grateful there’s one place where I know I’m heard and I know that I matter. When I cry out to my Heavenly Father, I am assured that I am heard. “Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord.” (Psalm 139:4)
“In the day of my trouble I will call to You, for You will answer me.” (Psalm 86:7)
“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
I never feel like an unheard voice crying in the wilderness with my Heavenly Father. His word assures me that He hears me and that He cares. My voice is heard and my voice makes a difference with Him.
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.” (Psalm 18:6)
sincerely, Grace Day
One thought on “voices in the wilderness”
AMEN!!!! Well said.