Monday, March 23, 2015

To speak or not to speak

Tomorrow marks 35 years since Archbishop Oscar Romero became a martyr, shot and killed while he was saying mass. Chosen as archbishop because he didn't challenge the status quo - which at the time was brutal, state-sponsored violence against the poor - Romero surprised everyone.

Romero woke up when his friend Fr. Rutilio Grande was martyred for speaking out against the Salvadoran government and for the Salvadoran poor, working against oppression and for empowerment. Romero's eyes opened. His heart opened. He started speaking.

His words, his cries for justice, his condemnation of violence led him to join in death so many other Salvadorans, so many whose names we'll never know.

I live in relative safety. I have the power to speak and too often, I am too lazy, too "busy" to speak out against oppression and for the empowerment of people who have far less than I do, people who would risk violence, imprisonment, even death, if they used their voices. I risk very little if I amplify their voices through my own. I risk very little if I shine a light on their struggles. Perhaps it is so easy to be quiet because I lose "nothing" by my silence.

Nothing, that is, but my connection to other people. Nothing but my claim to human decency. Nothing but a fuller embodiment of the Love that I was created from.

Denise Levertov

Living on the rim 
of the raging cauldron, disasters

witnessed but
not suffered in the flesh.

The choice: to speak 
or not to speak.
We spoke. 

Those of whom we spoke
had not that choice. 

At every epicenter, beneath
roar and tumult, 
their silence. 

I do not want to allow deafening silence to win. I want to be connected to other people. I want to embrace human decency. I want to embody Love. I want to speak.

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