Telling the untold

17 Aug

Driving to Portland yesterday, I heard a news story about “untold casualties” from monsoon flooding in Pakistan. In contrast to the highway unwinding straight and flat before me, the concept of “untold” twisted and turned in my head. I’d heard the term many times before, but hadn’t paid attention to what it actually means. Is it a cop-out term for what we just can’t face? A synonym for “unknown”, although it hints at something more? A once powerful concept that has devolved into vague overuse like “empowered”?

According to Roget’s Thesaurus,”untold” can mean many related but different things: enormous, countless, hidden, indescribable, secret, staggering, unknown . . . to name just a few. It can mean:

  • What we alone know and don’t tell
  • What we know collectively and don’t acknowledge
  • What we don’t know but imagine
  • What we don’t know and can’t imagine

How telling it is that a silenced voice is at the root of all of these meanings . . . as if silence were a mere descriptor rather than something we choose to allow.

When we are willing to surface what’s going on, we gain power. I know this is true for trauma and its victims. I believe it’s also true for our positive hopes and dreams.  What’s untold in your community, your organization? What might change if it gained voice? Who better to surface the untold than you?