Finding Your Voice

The present times in the region are very, very interesting.  It’s sort of nice to be able to step back and watch from the perspective of a semi-outsider.  While I have a vested interested in ensuring Jordan remains safe, I’m not thrilled about Egypt as most people here are.  It doesn’t move me at some visceral level.  It’s just an interesting thing happening not too far away that may turn out to be a good thing and may turn out to be a bad one.

But the thing that is interesting is that what I see going on is that young people around the region are finding their voices.  For some, I suspect it’s the first time they’ve even realized they HAVE a voice.  And in the process, we see that each person finds and uses their voice differently.  This idea has been bubbling around in my brain since the TEDxRamallah event.  The first speaker of the day in Amman, Lina Shehadeh, the Chief Marketing Officer over at Aramex was one of the best speakers I heard all day.  She was absolutely inspiring and right on the money for the audience (mostly 20-somethings).  What a shame that the entire event didn’t hear her (did they?).  She told her story, going from a college student who graduated from public schools with no English skills and unable to find her voice to even order fast food at a Quick Burger to someone who found her voice and used it to ask for a promotion that she was certain she was ready to handle.

It got me thinking about finding our voices.  In Jordan, our voices are often silenced by harams and 3aybs (two ways of saying shame on you, the second stronger than the first).  If we say something that is counter cultural, we’ll get that tsk-tsk sound and a haram.  If we express an opinion that seems to be critical, it may even be an 3ayb.  As a communal culture, I get why group-think is so powerful and valuable.  But Jordan today isn’t the Jordan of 50 years ago, or even of 5 years ago.  Young people want to have a voice.  They need to have a voice.  They want to have a voice that isn’t scared of being haramed or 3aybed.  In fact, scratch that EVERYONE wants to have a voice, not just the young.

In this society, it’s much easier for a young man to have a voice than a young women (I can hear the harams that I’m saying that out loud already, teehee).  So, it’s got me thinking about the GirlBeans.  How do I, as a Mom ensure that they find their voice?How do I empower them to use their voice and not to fear it?  How do I help them shape their voice into one that builds up their country and their society rather than one that tears it down?  Personally, I’ll be continuing to give this some more thought.  Not just about my girls but about all of the girls of Jordan.  How can I help build the voices of girls in Jordan?  I’m just one person, but I’m an American, we’re arrogant enough to be sure that one person can make a difference ;).  And so, I challenge you, dear readers (all 3 of you, if you even managed to make the move with me)…

What kind of voice do you want to have?  Will you have a loud, angry, destructive voice?  Or will you have a voice that roars as quietly as a lighthouse in a storm guiding your countries to safe harbor?  Will you build and create and help others find their voices?  What are you doing to use your voice wisely?

Happy cacophony!

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2 thoughts on “Finding Your Voice

  1. I think the problem is a cultural thing, most people don’t want to change, they are used to something and they want to stay this way, may be cause it is easier to do what they are used to.
    Another thing is they might be afraid of having a voice, they are afraid of saying there opinion in public, another thing might be to think that my voice will not make a difference, it will not change anything.
    It nerve hurts to try, say your opinion loud, one day it will make a change.

  2. Nadin, indeed. As much as it may be cultural, it is also often habitual. Perhaps I’ve gotten into the habit of ignoring my voice. Or perhaps I’ve gotten into the habit of letting someone co-opt my voice and “speak” for me.

    I agree that culturally using your voice publicly is very challenging here. And the feeling of not making a difference is an insidious one. However, just in terms of signs that my blog has pointed out as embarrassingly misspelled getting fixed and major companies taking the time to respond to comment, I can tell you one blogger’s voice can be heard. One of these days I’ll blog about how one blogger with limited readership has made changes ;).

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