Speaking Up – Find Your Voice & Stand Up in Power

Midlife, Society

Speaking Up

Politics are part of life. To not speak up, share, and have discourse is to lose your voice, your action, and your part in changing the world.

While politics is something many people avoid, it’s important to speak up, act in ways which improve our world, and be kind and respectful as we do so.

A democratic political system (or how we govern ourselves) requires active participation in all sorts of ways.

People were surprised but very supportive of our more active political Facebook posts in the last few days. Personal Tao has always been political as Taoism historically includes political teachings. The Tao Te Ching is, in part, a how-to guide on creating a government based on the power of the people, where rulers exist to support the people rather than empower themselves. To ignore politics is to lose your power and get abused by others who will take away your voice.

When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware he exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next the one who is feared,
The worst is one who is despised.

If you don’t trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn’t talk, they act!
When his/her work is done,
the people say, “Amazing: We did it all by ourselves.”

Chapter 17 Tao Te Ching
Translation by Stephen Mitchell

Speaking Up for Nature

When posting a picture of a beautiful animal, it’s political to help give nature a voice. In the modern world, nature’s voice is no longer part of the discourse in our society. As an example of this, our current leadership is destroying the endangered species act, expanding mining and destruction of national parks. This behavior is serving greed and the 1% of people who profit.

When political leaders ruin their countries and wreck their lands themselves to die at others’ hands, a laughingstock of all the world, it is always because of their desires.

-The Taoist Classics, translated by Thomas Cleary, pg. 313

Take a minute right now to let your voice be heard and speak up for the Endangered Species Act.

Speaking Up for Humans

When posting a video to help a person be strong, it’s political. Humans require personal strength and internal harmony to speak up in a way that serves others (rather than hurting others).

In the government of perfected people, mind and spirit are in place, body and nature are harmonized.

-The Taoist Classics, translated by Thomas Cleary, pg. 329

The focus of Personal Tao will always be about empowering humans and all life around us. Part of the discourse will include uncomfortable truths because that is part of the world we have to navigate. As we help individuals be strong, they can then turn around to help others in community be strong. In this manner, helping one person helps strengthen society.

Speak Up

Next Steps

Many people are unsure of their next step when starting to speak up. It’s also common for a person to feel as if they self sabotage their voice.

Doing Nothing Sabotages Your Voice.

Often when you don’t speak up, others will speak for you and override your voice. When others speak for you, they won’t get it all right, and their words define you. Even worse if you don’t speak up to correct what others say for you, then what gets said, will follow and limit you to their words in the future.

Part of speaking up includes letting your words validate your nature and actions.

When we don’t speak up, then other voices replace the silence. For example, corrupt politicians like Moscow Mitch listen to Russia over people in Kentucky, simply because not enough people are speaking up to override Moscow’s voice.

When society is orderly, the common people are upright and cannot be seduced by profit. When society is disorderly, the elite are villainous and cannot be stopped by the law

On State and Society – Thomas Cleary translation Page 328

Without the voice of the people, democracy becomes disorderly. Add your voice back into politics to help create order again.

Gathering Our Voices Together

Because we are one person, our voice may not carry the same weight as a corporation or a larger entity. As a result, a person may stop speaking as they feel powerless against the larger voice. Don’t stop speaking up, find others to share your voices, so in the sharing, you can then face against the larger entity.

The reason the TMT protests are being successful in Hawaii is precisely because people are sharing their voice against the state government’s mismanagement of Hawaiian Lands.

If you feel like your voice isn’t being heard, then find others to share your voice.

Those who comprehend the Tao are not focused only on themselves; they are also connected to the world.

On State and Society – Thomas Cleary translation Page 333

Speaking Up at the Right Time

It’s easy to sabotage yourself by not speaking at the right time.

Practice expanding your awareness as you speak up.

Speaking up takes quite a bit of concentration and effort, which means it’s easy not to pay attention to your surroundings. Pay attention to social cues, and people’s reactions as you speak up. Work with the energy of what is evolving around you as you speak up.

Often times we can use the energy of the situation to amplify our voice. This means if you overpush at a time when tension or emotions are high, your voice will get lost in the emotions.

When emotions are hot, use a cooler voice and let emotions elevate your words. When emotions are blinding others, then let actions shift others. There are a thousand ways to dance your words around emotions and social energy. Use your awareness to learn to dance with the timings of personal interactions.

Coordination of Voice

If you speak up, without sharing your voice with others, you are then speaking in a vacuum. All too many people speak up and don’t connect while speaking up. Take time to connect with your audience, incorporate feedback, and then refine how you speak over time.

If everyone speaks up at cross purposes, then everyone’s voice gets lost in working against each other.

Sound is additive, how you speak up can either cancel out with other voices, or it can add up into something grander. This is how choirs work.

Take time to learn how to harmonize your voice and actions with others.

The Trap of Being ONLY Passive

Many people misunderstand Taoism to be passive. It isn’t a passive practice, nor is it perfect. Let’s face it: 2000 years of Taoist teachings haven’t stopped China from being extremely repressive. We have to modify any practice, including Taoism, to fit the times and polish it to be better.

Those who serve life adapt to changes as they act. Changes arise from the times; those who know the times do not behave in fixed ways.
Wen Zu – Chapter 6 – Thomas Cleary translation

Taoist practice evolved to keep people alive in an extremely repressive government environment. Speaking up in China was a fast ticket to death, so Taoism taught people how to turn inward and improve themselves.

Those who know don’t talk.
Those who talk don’t know.

Close your mouth,
block off your senses,
blunt your sharpness,
untie your knots,
soften your glare,
settle your dust.
This is primal identity.

Be like the Tao
It can’t be approached or withdrawn from,
benefited or harmed,
honored or brought into disgrace,
It gives itself up continually,
That is why it endures.

Tao Te Ching Chapter 56
Translated Stephan Mitchell

Taoism taught people how to make the distance in the face of repression. This is one reason why so many people are being called to Taoist practice in the modern world as repression increases around the globe.

Yes, at times, we need to work on ourselves, and at times, we need to speak up and create new ways of living. We do need to learn from the history of Taoism and accept the truth that only turning inwards fosters greater repression. We need a yin and yang approach to our politics: to work upon ourselves (Yin) while also proactively improving society in our actions and speech (Yang).

Therefore sages keep to the Yin and get rid of extravagance and arrogance; they do not act forcefully. Because they keep the feminine (Yin), they can establish the masculine (Yang); because they do not dare to be extravagant and arrogant, they can endure long.

Wen Zu – Chapter 39 – Thomas Cleary translation Page 186

Speaking with Virtue

As a poet, I feel we all should speak up with heart and find our words.

We can speak up in many ways. A picture might show a thousand words, but a single action can shift an entire lifetime. The most powerful way to speak up is with our actions. Our actions speak beyond words.

When working in life, we need to have integrity by making sure our actions align with our words. In Taoism this is called “De” or virtue. I feel this is partially why people love superman so much: he is both a person of action and integrity.

What enables a nation to survive is benevolence and justice; what enables people to live is practical virtue.

On State and Society –  Thomas Cleary translation Page 325

Our actions are many; we often overlook both the power of our actions and how actions shape a person and society.

For example,

  • Take time to walk a little more – this will keep the body healthy and encourage motion. Walking can be an inspirational and political way to speak up. Consider all the walks for charity and Jimmy Novak who is walking across America to let his fellow veterans know they are not alone!
  • Take time to be careful about what you buy, as to not support people who abuse others but still sell products you use in your life.
    Ivan Pardo has created a new phone app called Buycott to help avoid supporting companies and people who abuse the environment and society.
  • Reach out with open arms to those waking up, protesting or standing up against injustice. When we are coming back into our power, a little support goes a long way. This can be as simple as a smile or sharing some healthy food. Reinforcing people coming into power will help them be more grounded, graceful and kind.

The point is individual actions can be simple and yet add up collectively to create a good world to live in!

person of action
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Facing Fear

Fear is a problem we face in speaking up. Fear is successfully used to repress people.

Fear Repressing Freedom

Abusive authority uses fear as a tool. The United States government avoiding gun control is, in reality, the government supporting gun violence as a tool of fear in society.  Politicians who talk about trickle-down economics are practicing trickle-down fear tactics. Their fear-based stance does trickle down to their supporters. As an example: a correctional officer rammed his truck into protestors just yesterday.

People desire comfort, pushing against fear destroys comfort. So, as a result, people wait for others to do their work. Let’s take a look at how well this tactic works. The data is in: mass shootings have been a problem since the 1980s, and it’s only becoming a larger problem.

Mass Shootings

Forty years of election results prove one thing: comfortable people waiting for others to solve their problems changes nothing and only reinforces the problem.

When you do nothing, the only solution that arises is the system fundamentally failing. Waiting for others / doing nothing is a terrible approach to crisis management, especially when dealing with mass shootings because it only will leave the abusers standing in the end.

Part of speaking up includes replacing authority figures who are abusive or encourage abusive behavior from others. This is more than just voting!

  • Be open to bring others into dialogue
  • Don’t only use facts, understand the stances of others. Find the bridges that connect rather than create chasms of disconnect.
  • Bring to light the abusers. The Me Too movement is a great example of this process in motion.
  • Don’t give energy to people who speak the talk but don’t walk the talk.
  • Leave anyone who is abusive (takes away power)! Abusers steal energy, so take your energy away from abusers.

Weapons are the tools of violence;
All Decent men detest them.
Weapons are the tools of fear;
A decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity…

Tao Te Ching Chapter 31 -Stephen Mitchell

In the current debate, people are being told this is a dire situation, and everyone needs a gun. When, in fact, this is false logic to push more guns to everyone and keep the fear-driven negative cycle in play. The dire situation is the politics of hate & fear, and the solution is helping each other be kind and fearless.

Virtue can be used to cultivate oneself; it cannot be used to make others violent. The Tao can be used to govern oneself; it cannot be used to make others unruly. Even if one has the capacity of sages, in an inopportune age of violence and chaos, one can thereby preserve oneself intact, but one cannot thereby command rulership.

On State and Society – Thomas Cleary translation Page 345

Part of speaking up must include facing fear.


Don’t let fear stop you.

We often look at the worst case and let that worst case stop us from acting. When in fact changing times open up opportunities for us all to use. In the picture above, notice how in the desert, true growth doesn’t happen in a stable area, it happens in the cracks and broken areas.

Take advantage of the cracking times to grow and not to hide!

So we stress this truth on how to move ahead in our times:

While politics is something many people avoid, it’s important to speak up, act in ways which improve our world, and be kind and respectful as we do so.

Doing nothing is the biggest trap we each face. It isn’t always comfortable to speak up and it can be hard to face our fears when speaking up. If you find yourself faltering in speaking up, then first work on removing your fears.

Allow yourself many small steps in practicing finding your voice. Take time to find others who are supportive and share in harmonizing your voices together.

The future is shaped by how you decide to speak up.

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Live life kindly, gracefully, with modesty while embracing a colorful story to enjoy!

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I found your recent Blog Post to be very interesting and wish more people would ‘speak up’. And to do so with a non-attacking ‘postive tongue’. Most important is to live life in a balanced manner. So that being said, it will be interesting to see how many people were willing to Speak Up during the last administration? Certainly EVERY administration has some issues that need to be discussed, i.e. so speak up!

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