Today was one of my last days observing a classroom as a student teacher. I walked in, ready to see what all the students had prepared. The assignment: Give a speech in any format you want over any topic you want. The task was strict enough for them to know what to do but vague enough for them to have fun with it. I sat down at the back and watched as student after student talked about their spring break, their first car, the first time they lit a firework. I was kind of hoping they would have done something more creative, but you get what you ask for.
Eventually, a young man who sat at the back was called to the front. People laughed when he flinched away from someone who stuck out their foot. His hands were shaking and he was obviously scared. His voice trembled a little when he spoke his name and the title of his piece. He held his paper out in front of him, glancing over it before crumbling it up and shoving it into his pockets. He began to speak, his voice rising and his passion growing.
Afterwards, I asked him if I could have a copy of his speech so that I could share it with others. He immediately agreed and handed me a flash drive. His only condition was that I didn’t put his name on it.
So here it is, something that moved many others and myself to tears. I hope some day he’ll feel safe enough to claim it, but until then here you go, R. This is for you.
Times Of Trouble
My breath’s becoming shallow, my nerves are kicking in.
As I stand here before you I’m not sure how to begin.
You told me to speak, that my thoughts are important.
But as I look out, all I can see are hornets.
People sitting and waiting to throw me around,
People all too willing to push me to the ground.
People staring into space, hoping I’ll shut up,
People tired of my shaking voice, thinking, “Nut up.”
But not today, my wonderful peers,
Because as of right now, I own your ears.
I’m no poet, innocent, or saint.
But I’m not evil or willing to taint.
Your hate speech that rolls so freely from your lips
Is nothing but fuel to the rage at my fingertips.
Call me names; strike when I’m weak
Shove me into lockers; call me a freak.
Think what you want about me, I don’t really care.
At least that’s what I’m told to say when I sit in front of my therapist’s chair.
Don’t think for a second that you’re why I’m on the ground,
What you’re words are really doing is kicking a guy while he’s down.
You think you’re the first to tell me I’m better off dead?
You think your words are worse than what plays in my head?
The constant nagging that rings only in my ears,
A slew of insults that can bring even the strongest man to tears.
What’s so terrible about the voices I hear?
They’re coming from my own pain I’ve carried through the years.
“You’re the reason she’s gone, you drove her away.”
“He never loved you, that’s why he wouldn’t stay.”
“Punch the wall, I promise it won’t hurt.”
“Why did you do that? You’re such a freaking jerk.”
“You can still hear me. Maybe you should shout.”
“Drink a little bit more. Maybe it will drown me out.”
You reason your hate with a book of love
One that requires many things for a God above.
You throw your stones and you condemn
As if all of you are free from sin.
My faith is my own and I believe in Him.
He’s helped me through my times of deepest sin.
When I’m poised with a gun and ready to go
He’s staying my hand with a resounding “No.”
When you would rather I be blown away,
He is the one who commands me to stay.
I need help, to that I’ll freely admit
And through a foundation I finally found it.
When my anger contorts me into a stranger
I refuse to put others in danger.
Because no one should suffer the way I do
I won’t cause the pain I’m forever bound to.
You place a stigma on me because I’m insane.
But none of you have tried to see past my pain.
You mock and terrorize what you don’t understand
When all that I need is a helping hand.
I held grudges; I made lists.
I wanted so badly to talk with my fists.
I held onto my anger with every push and shove
Until I heard the message: What’s louder is love.
Love is Louder than bullies. Love is Louder than pain.
Love is Louder than this constant feeling of shame.
Love is Louder than addiction. Love is Louder than dread.
Love is Louder than the voices that scream in my head.
Love is Louder than anger. Love is Louder than threats.
Love is Louder than the hatred spewing from your chest.
Love is Louder than hate. Love is Louder than fear.
Love is Louder than everything. That’s why I’m still here.