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Illustration by Nikki Swift
Speak up or someone will speak for you. It’s an action that is hammered into us well enough, but, all too often, not implemented to it’s full potential. On campus last week we saw the value of speaking up in action. When a student noticed a gun in the waistband of someone in their classroom, they were not idle or frozen with fear. They took action, they spoke up and remedied the situation. This action isn’t a one-off either. Across our campus every day, there are students who take notice, take action and tell it as it is when it comes to issues that matter to them. However, there is always a need for more voices. When we speak up we take full advantage of our incredible minds and communication systems. There is nothing more human than talking about our dreams, our passions, what excites or angers us. These ideas hold wonderful power, however, setting them free can be difficult. One idea held inside your head may be the same idea present in everyone around you, but no one has said anything yet for fear of retribution. Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann’s Spiral of Silence communication theory explains this well, citing a fear of isolation as the sole reason we don’t speak up when we feel our thoughts are in the minority. This effect spreads and soon perfectly sane ideas are kept quiet, and society’s dynamo of progress slows a little bit more. On the other hand, your idea might be the first of it’s kind. A revolutionary idea that rattles foundations of thought, an idea that throws off sparks and lights a conflagration, that circles the globe, and what a disservice it would be to keep it locked up in the folds of your mind. With election season upon not only Western’s campus but the nation, voicing your thoughts and ideas through the democratic process is an excellent way to let yourself be heard. One vote may not swing an election either way, but combined, all of these “one” votes can. This, however, is only a small portion of the power we all have. As college students, our platform to command societal norms and trends is powerful. We sit at the precipice of adult life and the values we form here are likely to follow us throughout our lives. We are in college to talk about the scary ideas, form opinions and discuss them. But if no one begins to talk, we’re not going to get anywhere. If you don’t speak up, you may be stopping someone from hearing exactly what they’ve been needing to hear. The old idea that a single voice cannot be heard above the racket holds no water in our world today. This lesson transcends human constructs like the First Amendment. We all have voice, no matter how soft-spoken we may feel at times. We all have thoughts, no matter whether we are told that they are right or wrong. The issue here is taking these ideas from the inside, to the outside. And for those who cannot speak in audible volumes, lift them up. Be the amplifier through which they can broadcast themselves. Assemble a group of likeminded people to bring up an issue, petition your representatives, vote in your general elections, write into your local newspaper. Together we are much stronger than separate, so let the world hear it.


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