“Do not mortals have hard service on earth?
Are not their days like those of hired laborers?
2 Like a slave longing for the evening shadows,
or a hired laborer waiting to be paid,
3 so I have been allotted months of futility,
and nights of misery have been assigned to me.
4 When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’
The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.
5 My body is clothed with worms and scabs,
my skin is broken and festering.
6 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
and they come to an end without hope.
7 Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;
my eyes will never see happiness again.
8 The eye that now sees me will see me no longer;
you will look for me, but I will be no more.
9 As a cloud vanishes and is gone,
so one who goes down to the grave does not return.
10 He will never come to his house again;
his place will know him no more.
11 “Therefore I will not keep silent;
I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep,
that you put me under guard?
13 When I think my bed will comfort me
and my couch will ease my complaint,
14 even then you frighten me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
15 so that I prefer strangling and death,
rather than this body of mine.
16 I despise my life; I would not live forever.
Let me alone; my days have no meaning.
17 “What is mankind that you make so much of them,
that you give them so much attention,
18 that you examine them every morning
and test them every moment?
19 Will you never look away from me,
or let me alone even for an instant?
20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
you who see everything we do?
Why have you made me your target?
Have I become a burden to you?
21 Why do you not pardon my offenses
and forgive my sins?
For I will soon lie down in the dust;
you will search for me, but I will be no more.”
In today’s reading the passage that most stood out to me was v. 11: “Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
While doing a little background reading I came across a quick article that introduced me to the idea of pluralistic ignorance. To quote the article, this “describes a situation in which a majority of people in a group privately disagree with an idea, while incorrectly assuming others in the group accept it.” So we keep silent, in fear of speaking out, not knowing that more people agree with us than we realize.
I actually find this a reassuring idea. I for one, hate debate and disagreement. Even common household arguments leave me feeling shaky and my mouth dry, so speaking up doesn’t come naturally for me. But I’m hoping that knowing about pluralistic ignorance will help me to speak out more. Wouldn’t you be more likely to speak up against injustices if you knew that everyone around you felt the same way? It’s scary to be the first, but this implies that if we take the lead, we’re going to get more back-up than we think.
Clearly, this isn’t always going to be the case, and I urge caution in sensitive or dangerous situations. But don’t be afraid to speak your mind at a family barbeque, or a friend’s dinner party, or in class if you disagree with something that has been said. I viscerally understand being vocal isn’t for everyone, so if publicly disagreeing with someone sends you into a panic attack, here are a few other ways you can “speak” out against injustice:
- Put your money where your mouth is! Donate to causes that fight injustice, whether it be women’s rights, immigrant rights, fighting racism, fighting poverty…there’s a lot of injustice out there, so there’s bound to be an organization for you. The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate throughout the entire country, and I’m going to go ahead and plug Planned Parenthood, too, because of it’s comprehensive and inclusive care. (I actually do wish to see a world where abortions aren’t necessary, but stigmatizing abortions and shaming women who decide to have them isn’t the answer. Better and cheaper contraception and more pre- and post- natal support services are. I’ll step off my soapbox now).
- Volunteering is another way to support a cause you believe in. Fighting injustice doesn’t have to be controversial. I can’t think of a single person who doesn’t think Meals on Wheels is a good idea (just whether or not it’s good enough to be funded with federal dollars….Mr. President….), and I loved doing meals at the Salvation Army as a kid.
- Make Responsible Purchases. This can mean a lot of things, whether it’s buying fair-trade coffee, reusable instead of plastic, local produce, or ethically produced clothing. I am eagerly awaiting the launch of Loop later this year, a company partnering with common household brands like Cascade, Crest, and Pantene to bring reusable containers (and shipping containers!) to consumers. Retailers pay close attention to consumer habits, and the more we support responsible industry, the more it will be available.
- Finally, my favorite – call your representatives. Again, if speaking just terrifies you, you can write a letter or an email, but calling has the most impact. Call off-hours and leave a voicemail if it is less intimidating. Laws are one of the most effective ways of mitigating change – why do you think there are so many lobbyists out there??? You can find out who your representatives are, and how to contact them, here.