Majority will have their way but the minority their say, goes the good old saying. Indeed majority most times have their way but do the minority always have their say? Have you ever found yourself on the other side of the divide and it’s you against all others? What did you do? Many of us are guilty of what my lecturer refers to as the culture and the conspiracy of silence. We simply fold our arms and let things unfold. The things is, we usually are afraid of the outcome, we don’t want to be tagged the non agreable or notorious dissenter but, come to think of it, who ever made a difference by swimming with the tide and flowing with the ebb? Who ever stood out by agreeing with the status quo? When you think of people like Martin Luther, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jnr and the whole lot of ’em, do you picture a folding of arms and agreeing with status quo? How did the majority become majority in the first place? Is it not by voicing out and taking a stand? That’s the simple logic.
For example, where I live, I recently just realised that the information system is poor. When there’s no power supply or there’s a sudden noise from across the hall, everything just rises and dies down again. We often just speculate and tag on to mouth to mouth rumours without knowing for sure what the problem is or was. I decided that since we have a duly elected minister of information, and in fact a duly elected executive, they owed us, owed me an explanation. I went in search of the president directly. At first I went knocking on the wrong door on three occasions before finding out her exact room number. Twice again, my visits were met with her absence.
I finally got my day in court this Thursday as I bumped into her unexpectedly while returning from class. I quickly jumped at the opportunity and tabled my grievances. She went on to explain things to me and the administrative and financial constraints they were having. I was satisfied. I cashed in on the opportunity to make some other suggestions for better governance. She was quiet civil and responsive. That’s what I’m talking about. I could have sat back like others busy peddling rumours about the government and indicting them from a myopic standpoint but I decided against that.
Refusal to speak up is one thing that makes people react unnecessarily because of pent up anger and discontent. But I tell you it’s easier to speak up and harder work to trudge along. I remember that time a salesman at a bakery treated me shabbily because I changed my choice of bread. I made sure not to leave until I reminded him that customer is king. Let me point out here that when you stomach inappropriate treatment for fear of being castigated, you are inadvertently creating a tyranny or despotism whereby you are the first among several other victims to come. You make it easy for the wrong person to keep at their wrong conduct.
I have had to remind a doctor once, that his was a profession of hospitability when he was all grumpy and uncongenial. Of course he didn’t like it just like any person on the wrong would’t readily admit their fault but truth must be told. We must learn to question obnoxious traditions and ask the question why both in speech and in conduct. I believe we owe the society that much. Even if it appears nothing is going to come out of it, never shush yourself until you are actually shushed. And when you are being shushed by the oppressor, dare to rise up and shush the shusher.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jnr our lives begin to end the day we become silence on the things that matter. Now, not everyone will become a reknown activist or a revolution leader of international acclaim but in the end, it’s not the big things we do that matter, it’s the little things we do in a big and right way. Make sure to get your day in court! Your voice is your power, use it.
P. S. Voice here encapsulates speech and conduct both active and passive.