“Shhh…” might be the most powerful word in the English language.
“Shhh…don’t rock the boat.”
“Shhh…hold your tongue.”
“Shhh…people aren’t ready for that.”
“Shhh…some people don’t like what you’re saying.”
“Shhh…you don’t want to cause people trouble.”
Every time you’ve tried to do or say something significant, someone was there to tell you “shhh” . “Be realistic. Calm down. This requires sober judgment. You might be wrong.” The grandaddy of “shhhs” in my business – ministry – is “be pastoral.” This is effective because it forces God to be responsible for the status quo, but it happens in every career and creative endeavor, doesn’t it? But we all know what “shhh” really means.
Don’t do anything.
Don’t say anything.
Don’t question anything.
Don’t try anything.
As a minister, I’ve heard “shhh” my entire career. From everyone – professors, pastors, former pastors, congregants. And it sounds like wisdom. It sounds good to go slow, to be careful and deliberate. And it is, if you’re actually going somewhere.
Truth is that the calls for “shhh” in your life are actually urgings to settle – to not let any dream, any vision, any cause get so far under your skin, or allow an alternative reality to infest itself within you to the degree that you had to release it into the wild.
Every time you accept the “shhh…” you’re killing what God gave you to bring life to others. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the moment we become silent about things that matter.”
- Authors shhh away their voice.
- Singers shhh away their song.
- Artists shhh away beauty.
- Preachers shhh away the prophetic.
God blessed you with something to communicate to the world, but the prevailing wisdom of “shhh” is winning. We accepted the “shhh.” We are shushed! In return, we have a world obsessed with Snooki and the winner of American Idol. We live in culture where there’s very little real threat of intolerance because, other than who is sleeping with whom, we don’t care much about anything. Because long ago, we accepted the “shhh.” We gave away our delightful yearning because it made someone else uncomfortable.
Yet the earth quakes, not by “shhh”-sayers, but by those willing to speak!
Harriet Beecher Stowe rejected the “shhh,” wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and was a substantial voice in the abolition of slavery.
Martin Luther attended his ears to God over the crowds of “shhh”-sayers and made the religious world quiver and rock.
Martin Luther King, Jr, looked into the eyes of his fellow clergymen and the soul of a country, assuaged the “shhhs” to cash the check of America’s promise of freedom to all men.
These people shared the common experience of being shushed….They just didn’t listen. They risked being wrong. They jeopardized acceptance by the church and government. They gambled their own lives in order to speak, when the world said “shhh.”
Many of the people I know in the religious world, in the writing world, and in the creative world know few words more than “shhh.” They exist to mediate all things back to stasis.
You cannot listen to them. They – just like they are trying to do to you -have been “shushed” into a bowl of something melted.
You were made to move the needle. You were made to create. You exist, as Steve Jobs once said, to “make a dent in the universe.”
How are you rejecting the “shhh”?