Mark 7: 31-35
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
I am somewhat conflicted by the term ‘voice of the people’. I fully support the democratic process that ensures each person in society has the right to speak and be heard. At the same time, I respect the voices of those who know much more about a subject than I do. For the flourishing of society, we need both. Yet getting the balance right can be fraught with risk: we must take seriously all the evidence as we find it, even if it is not what we expect. Then again, too much specialist gobble-do-gook and ‘the public’ gets lost and disconnects. Moreover, if we refuse to listen to the deep truths of people’s lives, we end up hurting one another: fostering fear and division, rather than compassionate communities.
There are times and places where the plain speaking of the public, motivated by a growing body of evidence, changes attitudes and lives. An example in this past year can be found in the village of Ullapool, where school children from Glasgow and Ullapool persuaded this community to stop using plastic straws (See: bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-42439946). All-round plain speaking and open listening can really make a difference. Where will you make your voice heard?
Open my ears that I might listen deeply
Loosen my tongue that I might speak the truth plainly
Soften my heart that I might be receptive to others
And give me the wisdom to discern the whisper of your voice
at all times,