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January 20, 2019

Feeling powerless with today’s politics and culture? Don’t let the loud voices silence you.

Don't let them silence you. Speak out.Loud opinions are rarely majority opinions. Nonetheless, they are the ones that seem to get the most attention.

Is it because those opinions are the best ones?

No, loud opinions are just loud. They get attention because they drown out and intimidate all dissenting voices.

And they’re the only ones being heard in today’s America.

It’s caused many Americans to experience a downward spiral – a spiral of silence. People are afraid to speak out.

We stay silent because, as human beings, we tend to base our perceptions on what we see around us – how news media handle the issue, what’s being said on social media, and what’s being said in our interpersonal networks. Our willingness for speaking out on issues is influenced largely by the climate of that opinion. If we perceive our opinion is the minority point of view, we tend to stay quiet.

We perceive our opinion to be in the minority because the loud opinion is so good at drowning out and intimidating all dissenting voices. Unfortunately, the more we remain silent, the more others believe the loud opinion is the only valid one, and thus, we become even more hesitant to speak, and spiral down to complete muteness.

Sadly, there is no more “we agree to disagree.” The loud voices will shout louder and engage in name-calling, threats and ridicule to get the dissenter and others who support that position to spiral into silence. Like this loud young woman from the University of Massachusetts:

(Warning: Some bad words, but you’re a well-adjusted grown-up and you can handle it.)

Do people like this REALLY represent what most Americans believe about (insert controversial topic here)? No, but people like this do exist and they’ll do anything to drown out and destroy anyone who disagrees with them.

Given the political and cultural environment of the last few weeks, a lot of folks feel it’s safer to stay quiet rather than speak out.

  • The presidential race has boiled down to be a contest between bad and worse. Depending on who’s around, visible support for Clinton, Sanders or Trump could get you hurt.
  • While public schools are predominantly funded by state and local tax dollars, the U.S. Department of Education says it will withhold federal education money from states who don’t allow students to use the locker room that best matches their gender dysphoria. And parents and students who object are labeled as hateful or ignorant.
  • College students are demanding safe spaces to protect them from dissenting viewpoints, which completely negates the purpose of higher education.
  • Churches are amending their bylaws to protect themselves against the inevitable lawsuits that will be filed when they refuse to compromise their religious beliefs.
  • In their quests to be inclusive, businesses like Target and their supporters have now declared all restrooms to be gender neutral to accommodate .3 percent  of the population.  Several consumer groups have boycotted the retailer in protest. (Spoiler alert: The protests aren’t about the one-third of one percent who are transgender; they’re about the risk women and girls face from male sexual predators who now have unfettered access to intimate spaces.)

What You Can Do To Stop The Spiral of Silence

The more we remain quiet, the more the loud voices control our society. It’s time to stop the spiral, and here’s what you can do:

Raise Cain with government officials, especially your state’s department of education. Last I checked, this is still a democratic republic and the government is supposed to be accountable to the people. While many of our government leaders initially poisoned the well, there are some who can provide the antidote. Here are lists of government and education resources for those antidotes.

Join up with like-minded individuals. It’s going to take a critical mass to change things, and we’ve got to support each other for a long fight. Support the people who’ve been attacked by the loud voices, and join the ones who are willing to put themselves on the front line.

Know your facts. We’ll never change the minds of those hellbent on our silence, but we can change those who are on the fence. That requires researching both sides of the issue. Use reputable sources such as:

  • Major media outlets with different political leanings – CNN versus Fox, Wall Street Journal versus New York Times, etc.
  • Social media groups that represent different sides of an issue
  • Subject matter experts such as legal professionals, clergy, communication professionals, law enforcement, advocacy groups and others.

Bark back. Yes, speaking out can be scary, and no one likes to be called names or threatened by unhinged people. Despite the fact that most of the unhinged loud voices act and sound like rapid Rottweilers that will tear your face off, in reality, they are yippy Chihuahuas trying to act like big dogs. Believe me, they back off when they realize you bark – or bite – back.

Don’t use faith-based arguments; they mean nothing to the loud voices. Absolutely nothing. Stick to the facts they can understand. For example, talk about the real psychological impact premarital sex can have on young teens rather than quoting verses about sexual purity. Don’t be like this woman who went on a loud Biblical rant through a local Target. Nothing positive ever comes from stunts like this:

Use your money. Donate to like-minded groups that are leading the fight on your issue, but don’t spend a stinking dime with any organization that you disagree with. (Here’s a hint: A successful boycott requires you and other boycotters to be existing customers of that organization. If they never had your money in the first place, how could they be hurt by not having your money now?)

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