On my drive to see the Oscar nominated film La La Land last Friday, I read a bumper sticker, “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.” As a speech pathologist, my natural inclination was to think about clients with whom I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. The ones who have engaged in long hours of treatment to remediate “shaky” or “quivering” symptoms in their voice as a result of an acquired communication disorder such as aphasia, dysarthria, Parkinson’s, neurogenic stuttering and spasmodic dysphonia just to name a few. Without knowing much about the quote or its author, I assumed it had less to do with living with a communication impairment and more to do with voicing your beliefs about social justice and equal opportunity.
So, I became inspired to learn more about the quote and its author, Maggie Kuhn.
Together one voice
Founder of the Gray Panthers, Maggie Kuhn’s mission was to raise awareness for fair treatment of older Americans. Along with advocating for nursing home reform and fighting ageism, she assisted in the care of her disabled mother as well as her brother who had mental illness. I was as inspired by Maggie Kuhn as I am by Mahatma Gandhi. I love revolutionaries. How fortunate are we, especially in seemingly tumultuous times, to reflect on the teachings of role models who promote non-violent activism for social justice. Aside from the one above, my other favorite Maggie Kuhn quote is “ [What] I dream of and yearn for is that the Gray Panthers will continue to be on the cutting edge of social change, and that the young and old together will continue to work for a just, humane and peaceful world.”
Perhaps it was sheer coincidence that I saw the bumper sticker and learned about Maggie Kuhn the very night before the Womens March on Washington, an organization whose mission and vision is, “We [women] stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”
If Maggie Kuhn were alive today to witness the estimated 4 million people worldwide marching in the spirit of human rights, I believe she would agree her legacy continues today.
Your voice has value
If you are affected by a communication disorder, fear public speaking or experience moments of trepidation speaking an opinion or belief deemed to be risky, please remember Your Voice Has Value. Though easy in theory, but oftentimes difficult in practice, speak your mind even if your voice shakes.