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The fable of The Speaker and the spark

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Samantha Lee
Samantha Lee

There was kind of slow moving devastation to the last few years of The System that caught many of us by surprise.

The final blows came in the last half of 2017, when winter was upon us and the fields were covered with snow.

There was an election that year, but it felt to many like the outcome had already been decided.

We were, as in any dystopian novel, a nation asleep to our own faults, a nation comfortable in its small-minded view of itself, and our dreams and goals were haphazard and meandering. The King sat smiling on his throne each day, guarding his secrets and eating pizza.

Our nation. Where The King’s System stood tall and unmoving in judgement of a certain section of the nation's people; those who struggled the most.

Our nation. Where the evils of The System didn’t exist…except in the minds and hearts of those who felt its effects.

We had been asleep in this way most of the way through 2017, ignorant of our brothers and sisters, either complicit in or bound to the mechanisms of The King’s System, when a lone voice appeared on the horizon.

The Speaker spoke truths about living in The King’s System that rang loud and urgently throughout the land. She struck a chord particularly with women, who kept those same powerful truths hidden in their hearts and minds. We gathered near her as she spoke, warmed by a fire that had been missing throughout too many cold winters, and some of us started to speak, too.

So the burden of The System was spoken out loud, not for the first time but perhaps in the strongest way, and for a while it was a little bit less. The Speaker amplified the voices of those who had gone too long unheard, and we loved her for being kindred.

But amidst the celebration, catharsis and joy, people who had a vested interest in keeping the status quo started to stir.

The King, alarmed at the unrest coming from some of his citizens, sent out his men.

Straw Man arguments were flung far and wide up and down the country, stoked by hate and fear and ignorance, building to become the kind of fire that has one design in mind; consume The Speaker. Keep the silence.

They succeeded.

The Speaker was banished, for a while. We had not seen the last of her…but that’s a story for another day.

There was one thing the men who blindly targeted without thought, who ignored, marginalised, spoke over, and scoffed, who vilified The Speaker’s actions without ever referring to the reasons for them – hadn’t realised.

The Speaker left behind a spark.

There were hundreds, thousands of people in the land who knew, for damn sure, that the Hunt of The Speaker had left a mark that was more indelible than the marks The System left.

They knew that the backlash of anger at The Speaker was in reaction to a far greater fear – change, which is always hardest for the most privileged among us.

They knew that the experience of The Speaker was such an uncomfortable truth to face, that the only possible reaction was to deny the humanity in her voice, to dull the power by focusing on the lie that was the vehicle for delivering an untenable truth.

The women were subject to the effect of The System everyday, in ways that were internalised deep within, and even those not subject to the whims of The King's System understood that their privilege was tenuous in a way that the privilege of The King’s Men was not.

They also understood they had been given a weapon to wield. They worked to hone their voices, their truths, their passion and their rage, and they turned it into a mighty power, the like of which The King’s Men had never seen.

The spark that The Speaker left could not be muted, or ignored, or vilified forever.

The day finally came when the people transformed The System…but that, too, is a story for another day.

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