The Voice of the Voiceless
By Rev. Elizabeth Rechter, Executive Director
There is a parable told by Jesus in the Gospels about a widow who fights for justice against an unjust judge. We are told the judge has no concern for people or for God, and yet because the widow is so relentless and keeps coming to him, he finally gives in. He says, “She will wear me out with her continually coming.” Translated more closely, it reads “She will expose me for my unjustness,” and so he chooses to grant her what she wants.
The Hebrew word for widow means “the voiceless one.” She has no voice of her own, but what is clear in her is the Voice, the source of true justice.
As the Presidential election approaches, I have been thinking a great deal of the Suffragettes of our country, in particular Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These women fought relentlessly for fifty years to try to bring the vote for women.
This journey began when Stanton attended the 1840 World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London, England to speak out against the institution of slavery in that country and in ours. When she got there, she found she had no voice as a woman and would not be allowed to speak on the floor of the convention. She returned to the United States, and for the rest of her life organized with Anthony and others to secure the voice and the vote for women.
Each of these women lived to the age of 86! Though their lives were not easy, and though both died never having seen the vote a reality (Stanton died in 1902, Anthony in 1906 … the 19th amendment giving the right to vote to women was passed in 1920), they lived strong, long lives. I believe what made this possible was that every morning they arose with the Voice clear in them. They could be relentless in their quest, knowing their cause was a just one. There were many obstacles, but none that could deter them from the work of securing the vote and giving voice to the voiceless.
In his book Doing the Truth in Love, Michael Himes names three parts to an authentic calling: it is a source of joy, we have the talent, and it is what others most need from us. For the suffragette, these three got them out of bed in the morning … not happiness, but the joy that comes when our spirit is in alignment with what is true and what is just.
The Voice lives in each of us. How do we hear it? Who helps us listen? And how might you be responding to the Voice?
I am grateful for those women and men who heard the sacred Voice calling and chose to respond. Because of their relentless efforts I will have a voice as I exercise the great privilege of casting a ballot this November.
Blessings for the Journey,