William Liao

March 19, 2021

The elephant and why your voice matters


The Elephant

Whether it is about community, home, or the work place — we all have our fair share of elephants

Issues of enormous importance and implications that need discussing but are not discussed for reasons that run the gamut: fear of social repercussion and judgment, the desire to avoid controversy, or the belief that your voice somehow does not matter.

Your voice is what paves a way forward

Consider from a practical perspective how any number of issues get resolved: 

How does a company arrive at the decision to pivot so that they may survive? Enough people see the cliff it is headed towards and they talk about it

How do friendships and partnerships come to resolve points of contention? Friends and partners talk about it

Voicing issues is essential to making progress.

Also, in the same way that one visit to the gym does not make you noticeably stronger, or one brushing of your teeth does not magically make them white, one conversation will not create the large-scale awareness and dialogue needed for things to get better. 

Consistency and repetition is key to pointing out the elephant and keeping it in sight and in mind.

Whether it is recognizing the existence of an issue or its significance— people do not know what they do not know. By choosing to regularly speak up about important issues, you give others the opportunity to develop the awareness and compassion needed for things to get better. 

Your voice has that kind of power and matters a great deal. 

The significance

Your community is human. Your companies are run by humans. Your customers are human. 

To care about any area of life is to care about the wellbeing of humanity.

Expecting a better, more vibrant, more compassionate version of reality requires that you take responsibility. 

Speaking up on key issues with your colleagues, friends, and family is a very practical way to do that. 

The message I want to share with you

In the last year there has been a rise in attacks against Asian-Americans

On March 9th, 75-year-old Pak Ho was assaulted and robbed. Ho has since died from his injuries. 

There are now communities like Compassion in Oakland that offer chaperoning services to anyone who doesn’t feel safe making trips to China town. The fear is becoming that prevalent.

I wish I could layout a clear path forward for how things get better, but the truth is that issues as deeply rooted and widespread as the rise in anti-Asian attacks is not a simple problem with a simple solution. 

What I do know is that awareness and compassion is the foundation on top of which anything is able to get attention and resolution. 

So here’s the ask:

Check in on your Asian-American and Pacific Islander colleagues because many of them are hurting. 

Kindly use the power of your voice to help pave a way forward: raise awareness of what is going on with your friends, family, and colleagues. Even if it’s just one person you talk to today — that’s a great start.