The book of Esther contains two queens. The first is Vashti. While her husband the king gives a party, she, too, is entertaining her female guests. After becoming drunk, the king decides to put Vashti on display. She says, "no." I dont know if Vashti refused out of dignity for her body or respect for her guests. I dont really care. I respect either one. When Vashti refuses, she is ousted. Then there is Esther. Esther replaced Vashti as queen after a long competition. Though Esther appears to be settling in quite nicely, it is not long before she, too, must use her voice. Esther must go before the king uninvited, reveal her identity as a member of those to be slaughtered, tell on her mortal enemy (a trusted member of the kings court) and ask that the fate of her people be reversed. Yep. That sounds like fun. And surely Esther is aware of the fate of the woman who came before her. She speaks anyway. The King embraces her and her request. She is spared.
Here is the truth, when you speak truth to power, I don't know which result you will be given. I do not know if you will be ousted or if you will be spared. You may be like Esther- praised, adored, saved. But you may be like Vashti- disposed, feared, alone. As much as I want to paint a beautiful picture of speaking out, of raising a fuss, of standing up... the truth is I don't know what will happen to your position when you do.
But if there be any comfort, let it be this, I am certain about your place. Vashti was removed from her position, but forever her place as queen who demanded more is forever secured in Scripture. (And I like to imagine the women at the party, who heard her say no, were never the same!) Esther kept her position as queen, but this is not why we celebrate her. We celebrate her for her place of courage in saving the Jewish nation. You may risk your position, but with God and your fellow advocates, you will never lose your place.
Let God take care of your position.
Use your voice to speak truth to power.
Take your place.
Let me close by saying that I know this is so much easier to write than to live. Giving voice to injustice, telling an institution there is more work to do, confronting the painful actions of others- never easy. But we need your voice. And truth be told- you need your voice. Vashti lost her position but she carried her dignity with her. Esther is tempted to stay silent, but her uncle warns, "Don't think you'll be the one person to escape if the slaughter happens" (paraphrasing, of course). Both women weren't just giving voice for others. They were giving voice for themselves.
May we have the courage to do the same.