We’ve seen in previous posts that using your voice is a powerful way to affect change—in yourself and others. In fact, using your voice can change laws, society, governments and, yes, the planet. Click here to read about this.
Remember, your voice is not just the ability to “talk.” Your voice is your ability to “express” yourself. And it can be done in many ways. Some of these ways might feel easy and natural; some might take a bit more effort (or growth?) on your part. It doesn’t matter your method of using your voice as you use it.
So let’s look at 5 easy ways to use your voice.
1. Dress the part: wear a t-shirt, hat or button
Using your “voice” in a visual way can make a huge impact. Your “vocal visuals” can be on a t-shirt that states your message, a baseball cap or even a button. Companies and candidates alike invest a lot of money into these kinds of “voices” because lots of people see them, wear them and remember them. Just think of your favorite team sport shirt—I love the Golden State Warriors!—and you can feel the emotion and memories flooding in. To a lesser extent, bumper stickers serve the same purpose.
2. Join an online group, forum or Facebook page
The Internet has lots of specialized groups. There is truly something for everyone. One great thing about these groups is that you can remain anonymous(almost like the feeling of being inside of a confessional). You can join an online group or forum and participate in them without actually getting in anyone’s face and without anyone getting in yours. And it can be a lot of fun to participate in discussions and even open new discussions on issues that you find important. I do recommend though that you find a group that is discussing issues that you find interesting and important. And participate in a meaningful way.
3. Write something!
I know. Right now, you might be thinking, “I hate to write!” or “I can’t write!” Lots of people hate to write but many people love it. Others are intimidated by the thought of it. Don’t worry; it doesn’t matter which group you fall into because there is something for everyone. If you are a confident writer, you can write a letter to your representative, mayor, city council, school board or even the manager of the store where you buy products.
If you hate to write, think of sending postcards to these same people. (I have joined many post card campaigns so I know that they are effective!) You only need to write a sentence or two then send it. Here are examples:
“All people deserve health care!”
“Clean water is a human right. Please vote for proposition A to keep my water clean and safe!”
“I am a senior citizen who flies with your airline. General boarding is difficult because of the crowds of people. I think that all people aged 75 or older should be allowed to pre-board all flights.”
It really IS that easy. Or you might just want to peruse websites and make comments about articles that have been submitted. Huffingtonpost.com is a great place to start. Or make a comment about a youtube.com video. Remember to keep your comments polite and civil.
If you love to write, think of submitting an article to a blog or to a print newspaper (an op-ed piece). Remember to review and follow their guidelines. And to welcome comments to your submissions.
Boycotting is an age-old practice going right back to the American Revolution. (American women refused to purchase any goods coming from Britain like cloth, tea and paper.) You can refuse to patronize a business, refuse to buy certain goods and items in support of a cause. Don’t worry if you’re the only person engaged in the boycott. It often begins with one person then gains traction and momentum.
Boycotts can have enormous impact. Remember the Montgomery bus boycott in the previous post? 381 days without taking the bus! In support of Rosa Parks, African Americans in 1954 refused to take the bus for more than a year. The community worked together and arranged for carpools, 10 cent taxi services, or they just walked or biked. It was hard for many people. But it worked: Montgomery buses were forced to integrate! Boycotting can be a large and coordinated project (like the bus boycott) or it can be a small and personal way for you to use your “voice” to take a stand against a problem. Both are powerful and empowering.
5. Donate money or time
This is the opposite of boycotting and it's equally effective. Personal donation involves supporting an organization, action or issue. Many organizations need additional help and volunteers to work on their mission. Even a few hours per week or on a single project can make a big difference and make your “voice” heard. If you cannot take time to volunteer, perhaps you can help financially. Make an outright donation. Pay membership dues and join the organization. Purchase their products like calendars, t-shirts, post cards, etc. Nonprofit and civic organizations always need people to help in whatever way that they can. This is a great way to put your voice into action or put your pocketbook to work. (I remember that someone said that it took a lot of money to keep Mahatma Gandhi in poverty! In fact, it took a lot of money to support Gandhi’s peaceful movement towards independence for India.) Money helps. Volunteers help. They are a great way to use your voice.
So, those were some fun and easy ways to use your voice and shout out loud.
I just want to end this post by mentioning two ways that you might find a little more challenging. But they are effective and fun.
Marching is a form of protest that occurs throughout most of the world. One of the biggest marches in American history was the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom in 1963 where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.
Marches today are much more sophisticated and coordinated because of social media and the Internet. Most marches are nonviolent and peaceful, as Mahatma Gandhi had intended for them to be. However, sometimes marchers lose focus and engage in unlawful activities. Sometimes, law enforcement becomes overly aggressive or violent towards the peaceful marchers. Just remember the 3Fs in marching: Keep it fun, focused and friendly.
2. Arrange a meeting
Another way to use your “voice” effectively is to go beyond letter writing and phone calls. Go and meet personally with your representative or whomever you think should hear your voice. Many representatives maintain an “open door” policy and want to hear from and meet with their constituents. You can call and make an appointment to discuss your issue in person. This can feel intimidating to ordinary people who do not have experience in politics. Just remember the 3Ps: be prepared, polite and persistent.
I hope that you see now that you can use your voice in many different ways. Choose the way that feels right to you. And keep at it. Keep using the power of your voice.
Let your voice change the world!