Intentions and Voice

The hardest thing to reconcile is that just because you have good intentions, doesn’t mean it’s your time to have a voice.

— Chris Evans, Chris Evans, a.k.a. Captain America, Comes Back Down to Earth at The New York Times.

I’ve been trying to learn this for several years. At times, it’s difficult to remember that I’m in a position of privilege: white, male, American. And I have opinions about everything, sometimes good, sometimes bad, usually formed too hastily. I’ve been practicing but, as I said, “trying to learn.”

So far, the easiest question to ask myself is, “Does this add anything to the discussion?”. The answer is usually “no”. I might have a funny aside or an interesting fact or just want to agree, but it isn’t furthering the conversation usually. I’m just echoing – a tenuous sound responding with less force and intent than the original.

I don’t know. In the moment, I didn’t think of that, I just opened my mouth.

I was called on it the next day and took a moment to realize the context. My immediate intention was non-existent, so why did I do it? Why did I sting – this person meant me no harm through their action. It, literally, did not effect me. I’m, begrudgingly, glad they called me on it because it’s made me think about who I am and why I do.

My un-intentioned voice cut; it stung. Without intending to, I hurt someone. Without intention, I hurt someone. I can’t walk it back – I can apologize but I still buried the stinger in them.