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How To Hold On To Our Values -

Even When Silenced

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By Riley Kim | 15th July, 2022

Gripping tight to values is not exactly everyone's cup of tea, especially when one is silenced. Young students who talked about politics, leaders who took bold decisions or individuals who raised their voices all have something in common. Dive deep into this article and find out!

What Does It Mean "To Be Silenced"? 🤐

According to the Cambridge Dictionary…

Definition 1: to make someone or something be quiet

Definition 2: to prevent someone from expressing their views or from criticizing or opposing someone

But, my definition is: "to be silenced" = to get systematically oppressed by a bigger institution or group that tries to keep down people’s valid voices in socially unjust situations. Let's look at some of the best examples of individuals who were silenced but held onto their values.

Environment Protection Activists 🌳

Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist, delivered a speech in front of numerous world leaders.

Environment Protection Activists have been in the spotlight for many years, as their voices were repeatedly crushed and ridiculed by society. In the past when there was no such thing as ‘climate change, people thought environmental activists were out of their minds. Even in the present, a lot of people are dismissive of environmental problems,and society’s perspective is often diluted by the fossil fuel companies or oil companies that wish to silence the activists. Some ways of silencing were mean portrayals by the media, lobbying companies shoving the activists away from the discussion table, and being called nasty names.
Greta Thunberg was a young girl who fought against those trying to silence her, trying to represent the entirety of our generation in this fight against climate change. A lot of people laughed and criticized her for calling out numerous politicians and world leaders, she actually succeeded in delivering her ideas to the world but not so successful in implementing them.

The Ukrainian Resistance

Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy

Ukrainian desire for a fully sovereign and independent country has recently been violently crushed by Vladimir Putin and his Russian army. The invasion began on the morning of 24 February 2022, when Putin announced a "special military operation" to "demilitarise and denazify" Ukraine. Minutes later, missiles and airstrikes hit across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv. Russia is trying to silence the Ukrainian desire for full sovereignty which started from the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.
However Ukraine is not ready to be silenced by Russia - Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, announced that he would stay in Ukraine and fight with the people, even when Russia was openly sending in troops specifically to assassinate him. He led and encouraged many Ukrainians to join the army and fight against the Russians, even when the situation was not optimistic. He was not hesitant to ask for help from numerous other countries, using diplomacy and authenticity as a tool for his leadership.

Silenced Students: When They Talk About Politics 🗳️

The society blindly assumes that students are ignorant about politics and how society works. However, this is not the case anymore. As internet media developed, students gained access to different political issues and social problems. Although minors are perceived to be immature and inexperienced to have meaningful discussions and hold distinct opinions.
This is an excuse commonly used when adults and society try to silence us, teenagers. Many experienced, aged politicians want to retain their power and voice in politics. They are not welcoming of new change instigated by the blow of youth. Thus, they try to crush the young ones down by claiming that they have either nonsensical policies or cannot practically solve the problems at hand. They frame youth as the ignorant bunch of loud kids who are irresponsible and babbly - which is not true.
This systematic power dynamic is what silences our youth generations from speaking out in terms of politics and especially education.

Triston Ezidore is a pioneer in politics, especially in education. He is running for Culver City School Board, advocating himself based on the recent experience in high school he has compared to other candidates. He emphasizes diversity and inclusion education and perspectives in K-16 school education. Although the hate is enormous because of fear of drastic change, he has a strong community of trust to support him when he endeavors to break the ceiling in politics.

How Do We Still Find Motivation In Our Activism Or Lives?

When we challenge society and our surroundings to demand change, we tend to face extreme hate and difficulties. People are generally afraid of their surroundings changing, which makes you, who are instigating change in the community, their enemy. However, in times of life, you need to keep going on even with all the blatant criticisms. Many of the leaders shown above have gone through the same process, encountering countless hate and blocks from society. However, the key of continuing the fight for change is to find motivation internally.

1. Strengthen your core values as a person (MOST IMPORTANT)

We need to fight off the assumptions made about us and how people perceive our generation as a whole. As this situation stems from the mischaracterization of youth, we need to set an example and set precedents so that these assumptions are not deemed to be true. To fight such presumptions and prove others wrong, we need to be strong ourselves since if we have a strong core value we won’t compromise with people.

Why are core values important?

Core values are what define a person in the essence. Retaining such qualities are important when we try to change things and we are silenced since this allows us to keep our values even when our processes and our focus are intervened by other external factors.

💡 We can confidently pursue the path we wish by setting our goals clearly and being precise in the planning process.

2. Think of the people looking upon you to instigate change

Thinking about how many people are influenced by your actions helps you stay focused on your cause. Those who are weak but count on you for the necessary change keeps you responsible. Imagining a few more years and generations of intense suffering from certain policies or social problems is the driving force for many student leaders and activists around the world.

3. Think of the people who made way for you

Stop what you were doing for a second, close your eyes, and think of those who sacrificed for you so that you could receive such education and treatment and be the present self. Some examples could be your parents, loved ones, teachers, peers, etc.

This helps you be grateful for your opportunities and promise to yourself that you will not make those efforts be in vain. Such emotions invigorate you before you continue the long fight for change.

4. Make a checklist and check off the little points every day

When things seem to get really big, and you have no clue what to do next, try and look at the bigger picture. Be broader-eyed, and get a different perspective on the subject. This will allow you to know the necessary steps to line out the whole process.

Also, try not to get burnt out because when you are silenced, it takes a really long time for you to retrieve your voice from those in authority. You need to be patient in the process, and keep track of what you did in the steps so that you are constantly motivated to do more. You should also celebrate the mini-steps you took and share them with those dearest to you.

Key Takeaways 📌

  • Redefining ‘to be silenced’ with a negative
  • connotation Recent and classic instances of ‘silenced’ groups
  • How to stay motivated in the long process
    • Think of what kind of change you are making in people’s lives Make a checklist of things that you must accomplish
    • Strengthen your core values and become a strong believer in yourself

“I am not scared, I will not be silenced, and I will continue to take the streets and criticize any wrongdoing that I see.” – Asmaa Mahfouz

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