More often than not I’m told to shut up or some version thereof. I’m not surprised. I tend to be bluntly honest about what I see and how I feel about things which can be unnerving for some people. It’s not that I’m rude unless I’m cranky at someone, which I don’t do without good reason. All of this leads up to a variation of “shut up” when I speak out about something.

“No one wants to hear.” “No one’s listening to you.” “One person talking can’t make a difference to anything.” “It’s all been said.” “Who do you think is going to listen to you?” “People are tired of hearing about it.”

The problem with this sage advice is I tend to be a bit of a Don Quixote. I keep tilting at those windmills in hopes of slaying that dragon. My windmills are those things I see as unfair or wrong. Racism, bullying, LGBTQ rights, pro-choice, the list goes on. There are things that are wrong in the world and I’m not going to shut up about.

So why not just  go along with the masses and let things be. After all, how much impact can one person have?

A young teen went on YouTube and spoke out about why girls in her country should have an education. Since then she’s gone on to continue speaking about the need to educate girls and women’s rights. Malala Yousafzai was just one young girl but now she’s a voice that’s heard.

A woman was on a bus when a bus driver ordered  her to give up her seat to a white passenger. She refused. She was arrested and helped to spark a revolution that ended segregation. Rosa Parks did one small act that changed an entire country.

The list goes on of small people doing small acts that change big things. Malcolm X, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Helen Keller… Each of them were just one person doing what they could to make their world a better place. People following their consciences.

I’m no Mandela or Keller. I don’t claim that greatness. I do claim to have a voice. Even if it’s a small one. When I claimed the title of “Writer” I also accepted certain obligations. To speak out. To question the world around me. To give voice to those who have no voice.