When I heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been assassinated, the very first thought that popped into my mind was, ďDing dong the witch is dead. Rejoice, munchkins!” Then a brief 10 seconds later, it was followed by a heaviness in my heart. Everyone all over the US was celebrating. Twitter was all atwitter with gleeful cheering. Facebook was one big PAR-TEE. There were parties in the streets.
And yet, I found myself crying, not because the world isnít better off without bin Laden in it, but because our reaction as a society breaks my heart.
Speaking my truth
So I wrote this post. And I tweeted it on Twitter. And I posted it on a Facebook. And I quoted Gandhi saying, ďAn eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.Ē
And then people started un-liking me on Facebook. And un-following me on Twitter. And I started getting hate mail. And that just made me cry more.
Not that I really care how many Facebook fans I have or how many people follow me on Twitter. And Iíve gotten hate mail before, so I know none of itís personal. But what breaks my heart is that people have such a hard time accepting opposing views. Thereís so much pressure just to follow the crowd cheering into the streets, even if you donít feel like celebrating. And so thatís what most people do.
Womenís voices have been oppressed for so many years, and itís still happening today. Iím a powerful woman with uhÖyou could say strongÖopinions. And after years of keeping my pie hole shut, Iím no longer afraid to speak my truth, even if I know it wonít be popular. Iíve spoken out about everything from abortion to male circumcision to vaginas. So I wasnít about to keep quiet about my jumbled up feelings about bin Ladenís death.
But I was still saddened that people felt the need to reject me because they didnít agree with my feelings.
Why can’t we live in love?
Why canít we create space for others who disagree with us? Why canít we stop the dualistic thinking that makes one person right and the other person wrong? Why canít it be okay that I feel both relieved and saddened at the same time? Why canít I speak my truth without worrying that some person I care about might decide they canít have a relationship with me because of what I believe?
When I wrote Whatís Up Down There, one person I love dearly decided to reject me. She just couldnít be in my life anymore if I could write that kind of book. And it deeply saddened me. Must authenticity equal rejection?
But whatís the alternative? Silencing myself? Sugar coating my authentic beliefs so they come across as more palatable to the masses? Spouting off things I donít believe so I can repair a relationship that broke down?
Regarding the post I wrote about bin Ladenís death, one person who has been a vital part of the Owning Pink community for two years, said, ďAs an American, a woman, and a human being, I found this blog to be very offensive! I understand that you are on a mission to help people live in love and peace, but some things are better left unsaid!Ē
Really? Better left unsaid?
Like I should just shut my trap, when my whole mission is to empower you to open your hearts, minds, and mouths? Nah. I canít do that. Iíve come this far. Once you discover the joy of being free, you canít climb back in your cage.
In response to her, I wrote:
I love you honey. I really do. And I know you and I disagree politically about a lot of things. But really — “Some things are better left unsaid?” Do you really believe that any person should silence their true beliefs? I don’t. I believe we can agree to disagree, but I have my right to speak my mind and you have yours. Must we make it personal? Can’t we disagree and still share love?
Why canít we accept that weíre not all clones? Why canít my beliefs just be my beliefs without threatening yours? Why must it be such an either/or society? Canít I express sadness that people are celebrating a death without being labeled as an un-American traitor? Canít you just love me — because of and in spite of my beliefs — the way I love you?
So many of you havenít discovered the joy of being free to speak your truth yet. Youíre still in the cage, feeling muzzled, thinking things without saying them, stuffing your feelings down, wearing masks, saying what you think will make you popular, rather than what is true. And it eats away at your soul.
In fact, dozens of people on Owning Pink, Facebook, and Twitter messaged me anonymously or privately to say they agreed with my feelings but were afraid to go public about how they were feelings. While I did get hate mail, I also got loads of love letters from people saying I inspire them to overcome the silence and speak their truths.
In fact, in the end, after I tweeted about how people on Facebook were un-liking me, I wound up with way more Facebook fans that I had yesterday, before the whole bin Laden thing went down.
Let your light shine
Which is pretty much how it goes. For every person you lose because you spoke your truth, youíre likely to gain 100 more. And the ones you gain are precious, because they love you BECAUSE of your truth. You start attracting your tribe. You surround yourself with people who value your authentic self and love you all the more because you are vocal about what you believe, even if itís unpopular.
Itís time to stop the Gentlemanís Agreement, the one they made the movie about, the one that says that polite people just go along with the pack, even if the pack is killing Jews or oppressing black people or dancing in the streets to celebrate a death. Every time you silence yourself instead of speaking up for what you believe in, you imply agreement with what everyone else is saying. Every time you keep your mouth shut to play it safe, you deprive the world of your zone of genius. Every time you fail to let your Inner Pilot Light shine, you die a little more.
Donít you want to stop keeping quiet? Donít you have something to say in your life that youíre dying to say? If you had 10,000 people and soapbox to speak to them from, what would you say?
This is your time, baby. This is your chance. Tell us what you believe — about anything. Come out of the closet. We value your voice. Speak loud and proud and let us celebrate you.
*††† *††† *††† *
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Woman coach, motivational speaker, and author of†Whatís Up Down There? Questions Youíd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.