In my work with people with disabilities over the past 34 years, it took me about 30 years to realize the extent to which the dominant society has silenced the voices of the dominated, i.e. the oppressed.
When I say “listening for”, I mean something very different than simply “listening to”. Listening tosomeone means that they are audibly talking to me and that I must focus my attention to hear what they are saying. This is not always easy because of the nature of communication and words. We must learn to listen, not just with the ears, but also with the heart to the meaning behind the words. BUT “listening for” means that the voices may not be speaking to me, that they may not be speaking audibly at all. But we all speak in many ways. Every action we take speak loud and clear about what is within. What I have learned is that a voice that has been silenced may no longer be speaking audibly but it continues to speak quietly and nonverbally. Hearing this outcry of the heart is not easy and takes great discipline. But we must learn to listen, especially to the lost voices of society; the homeless, the disabled, the prisoners, the hungry, and those that are just “different” in background, race, culture, values, and creed.