Speaking Out for Change

As the English author, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, wrote, “the pen is mightier than the sword”. Some words have sparked social change—such as the abolition of slavery or the rights of women to vote—by challenging conventional wisdom and winning hearts and minds to a better way of life. Others, however, are forgotten the moment they’re uttered. What makes the difference?

Many a time I have mused that I cannot remember my 7 years of French from school, yet, play me a song from the ‘80s, and I can probably sing along knowing all the words. I think the difference lies in how the words we hear connect to the memories or emotions in our own life journeys. As children, we accept what we are told and taught, as we have limited understanding and knowledge of the world around us. As we grow older, our perception changes, so we challenge and question what we are told and taught. This educates us and gives us the knowledge we need to make our way in life.

The real power of words come with their power to inspire change. The lyrics from Regina Spektor’s song “The Call” come to mind:

“It started out as a feeling, which then grew into a hope; which then turned into a quiet thought, which then turned into a quiet word; And then that word grew louder and louder, until it was a battle cry.”

This is how change starts. When one person’s call for change becomes echoed by many, it gathers speed and momentum, which makes change possible. One voice becomes many. The spoken word.

Yet it is the unspoken word that we need to be wary of; it is a double-edged sword. The unspoken word could be that person who doesn’t speak out—that person who thinks their view doesn’t matter or that other people may not agree.

Sometimes, part of a sentence is voiced and another part left unvoiced. That silent part could be the unspoken reason a decision is being made, or not being given all the facts enabling someone to make an informed choice. In the ‘80s, the phrase “working class” was often used. The unspoken words from those using this phrase could have been: “Well that doesn’t affect us then, so it doesn’t matter”. It could also have simply been a way to define a certain group of people.

The unspoken word can lead to assumption, misinterpretation and misunderstanding. It can also tear families apart and divide communities. With our Borough facing choices today that will be felt for generations—particularly around the Borough Local Plan and our changing high streets—honesty and transparency needs to be brought back into politics and residents given a greater vocalisation. Those who say nothing risk losing out.

In simpler terms – if it affects you, you need to speak up. I have always said that I have never been a fan of the “what if” game. What if I had taken that job? What if I had sat different subjects at school? What if I didn’t speak up?

In this case, silence is NOT golden. Now is the time to speak, to express your hopes and your concerns for our Borough. Use your words to enact the change in which you believe. Let your words inspire others, so that many can work together to make our Borough a better place to live and work.

My own moment of choice came as Councillors pushed through approval for a multi-storey carpark on Vicus Way in Maidenhead, despite serious concerns from area residents. My concern turned to disbelief when my representative, Cllr Derek Wilson, voted in favour of his constituents before claiming he made a mistake when the carpark was rejected and the carpark was finally approved. I couldn’t keep quiet; I had to do something. This is why I decided to join tBf and run as a Councillor to represent my fellow Oldfield residents.

tBf was set up to address the issues facing our Borough by putting members of the community at the heart of all they do. Decisions made around the shape of our community, access to affordable housing and high quality education and other issues have to be made hand-in-hand with the community. They can’t be imposed from above if they are to actually make our lives better.

tBf gives me an opportunity to make a difference and they’d love to hear from you, too.

Helen Taylor is a resident of Oldfield and a tBf candidate for Oldfield Ward.

Published and Promoted by Charles Hollingsworth on behalf of “the BOROUGH first“, both of PO BOX 4919, Maidenhead, SL60 1LS

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