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Perspective: Today, I raise my voice

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By Ricardo Márquez

Since I was a child, I have heard this: “Don’t raise your voice, it’s bad manners” and “Don’t yell.” Today, I’m giving myself permission to update those directives. An adult is capable of distinguishing between “always” and “sometimes.”

A yell depends on the context of when it’s being used, and has different consequences. We yell in a football game to cheer on our team or to insult the referee. We cry out when we want to be heard and feel that we are not being heard. We yell in a rage to defend ourselves from someone verbally attacking us. We yell to warn another person of an imminent danger that he or she does not see.

In Scripture, the prophets raise their voices: “Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 2:2). “How long shall I cry for help … ‘Violence!’ and You will not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2). The psalmist raises his voice: “Hear me, Lord, my plea is just; listen to my cry. Hear my prayer” (Psalms 17:1). The sick raise their voices to get Jesus’ attention and be healed; “When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Mark 10:47)

Jesus raises his voice to denounce hypocrisy and abuse of power: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13). And at the end of His life, “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?’… And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit” (Matthew 27:46-50).

These days, students are raising their voices on college campuses, as are counter-protesters. Neither side is indifferent to war, to death. They yell because the protagonists on both sides of the conflict do not listen, because governing leaders seem blinded by their power, their pain and the urge for revenge, unable to see beyond their own ideologies and interests. They do not recognize the dignity and value of every human being.

History in the Gaza region is complicated. The two groups in this conflict (Israelis and Palestinians) present their own facts to justify their actions, the media amplify them, which leads to further polarization. All this distracts from what is essential: the life and dignity of every human being.

Today, I raise my voice; today, I yell: Stop the war! No one is safe while there is abuse and injustice! Peace is the fruit of justice! We’re all affected as humanity!

It’s going to take years to heal the physical and emotional wounds and to rebuild fraternity.

At the same time, I’m aware that it’s not enough to raise one’s voice. Today, I affirm my communion with all of those who suffer, and I ask the Lord for my own conversion so I can be an instrument of peace in my family and in my daily life, to build from within what we yearn to see on the outside.

Ricardo Márquez can be reached at marquez_muskus@yahoo.com.

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