Express Yourself! Even if it means disturbing the peaceTemitope Oyetunji
Sometime ago, I wrote a facebook post where I talked about how disturbing the peace of my neighbourhood made me feel guilty.
Later when I thought about this, it occurred to me that the fact that I was so concerned about what the neighbours might think, was not about being civil. It was the default mode of suppression I had adopted over the years which I rationalized as civility, that made me wary of my actions.
Sometimes we have to look closely at some ideologies we subscribe to, because often times they only serve to mask our self-deception.
I have had many people tell me I have a habit of holding back, and nothing could be closer to the truth. All my life, I have walked on egg shells striving not to offend people by being too outspoken, trying to maintain the peace at all cost, and suppressing myself to make others feel comfortable.
But the truth is, individuals who cause a change in their communities are not people who are afraid to disturb the peace. Their expression usually starts like noise or disturbance, till it begins making sense, and people start listening, acting, then change inevitably follows.
Martin Luther started questioning the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, disturbing the age-long peace that had been in place with such practices, and soon enough he found himself leading a Protestant Reformation.
If Paul and Silas would have been so concerned about disturbing their neighbouring prisoners, they wouldn’t have started singing hymns at midnight. Only a few things are more disturbing than singing in the dead of the night. But the book of Acts records that the prisoners were listening to them. What followed was a great earthquake, and then everyone’s chains were loosed – both singers and listeners.
If you find that you are disturbed by other people’s expression, it might be because you have not given yourself permission to adequately express what you are capable of. That is why other people’s boldness in doing so would bother you so much. I know because I’ve been there. I don’t like to be disturbed because I wouldn’t disturb other people. Even if I did, I would do it apologetically.
But now I think silence or metered expression is overrated, and it’s not always a sign of civility or nobility. In fact, it may amount to denying the universe what you are meant to contribute to it. Imagine you are supposed to bring change to your community by disrupting the status quo, but you are too civil or ‘peace-loving’ to do that.
So I thought it good to put up this notice for you my esteemed reader, and for other residents of this community, who may be passing by at this opportune time, that it is my intention to disturb the peace of this neighbourhood and to do so unapologetically.
It is also my intention to show solidarity to everyone doing the same, because if we all can be true to ourselves and express what our Maker has deposited in us fully, our world would be a better place to live in.
As Marianne Williamson succinctly puts it “……You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”
Are you ready to disturb the peace, or you want to stay silent some more ?