loudest not best

by Kristen

I was half listening to the radio when a phrase jumped out at me: “. . . the loudest voices weren’t maybe the best voices . . .”[1]

Are they ever?

My word associations started firing: “voices” plural as in multiple people; “loudest” as in drowning out all other utterances. I pictured masses. Riotous mobs. Rabid fans. Passionate Kool-Aid consumers. Emotion-driven collectives. Individual wills morphed into the will and voice of the many.

Group mentality wields volume as a weapon to win the moment, whatever the moment is.

The loudest voices are rarely the wisest—or the most thoughtful or compassionate or restorative or truth-telling—voices.

Hardest to ignore, yes. But “the best” . . . probably not. In any context.

Might there even be an inverse correlation between volume and value?

When I taught fourth grade, it wasn’t raising my voice that grabbed my students’ attention—they were adept at tuning out increased volume as a tactic of control. Instead, it was when I fell silent or spoke softly that they knew it was serious.

Quieter, smaller, easier-to-miss voices often speak the most needed words . . . words laden with worth without artificial amplification.

Words don’t gain substance by volume. They might even lose it.

Truth resonates, even without a microphone.


[1] Block, M. (2014, April 10). How the son of a Confederate soldier became a civil rights hero [Interview]. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/04/10/301432659/how-the-son-of-a-confederate-soldier-became-a-civil-rights-hero

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