A Cry for Justice

The captain and his first mate 1970.
Sep 02, 2016

A Cry for Justice


Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world

Question #39
Rite of Passage 14 –A Journey Resumed –
1959 I am twenty-five years old

Q. It’s so easy to blame someone else for causing pain but did they strike the first blow? Did you ever seek to justify your withdrawal from someone you blamed for hurting you?

A raised voice is commonly associated with anger and a need to be understood by someone who doesn’t appear to be either interested…or even listening.

My darling Treena, as a result of her early years on stage, had great voice projection…especially when she needed attention.

At the beginning of our (almost) sixty years of marriage I didn’t understand what was going on. My ‘limited’ point of view, as a young husband, was that she was cross or at times angry and I was the reason why!

It was during my three month “shape up or ship out” season that I began to pay attention to her strident tone and take it to heart.

What was behind the volume and what were the words revealing about her innermost feelings? Up until this time the world had revolved about me; mostly, and what I needed to do as the “man of the house”.

Treena, during those days, had been largely silent, other than when the word “truth” was used. That was her all-purpose analysis of anything vaguely questionable.

“Truth?” she would enquire—and that meant that the answer had better fit the bill!

I do believe that we were amongst the last of the old school that saw the man as the leader, the breadwinner and the one whose opinion was not only to be followed but also believed to be right.

So…what about now?

I have had the great good fortune over many years to be a sailor of both small and larger sailboats. On a boat there can only be one captain, there really is no room (or time) to debate what needs to happen, “NOW”!

To some extent I have come to see marriage as Captain and First Mate—not for any other reason but knowing how to handle responsibility for the lives of all aboard.

If there is an angry outburst by a family member it should never be responded to…in anger. That’s a great way to be distracted enough to ‘run aground’!

A raised voice on a ship or in a home is a form of alarm and should gain the responsible “leader’s” attention that there is an immediate need.

Several years ago I started to hear Treena’s raised voice as a “cry for justice” and I was the one to whom she had come to have something settled with a complete understanding of the way she perceived the issue at hand.

In a court of law judges seldom shout back at anyone. They desire, for the most part, to reach a wise conclusion and rule dispassionately according to the law.

That’s the way it was over our last years together and it worked wonderfully…most of the time. Occasionally, taken by surprise, I shouted back. Each time I was immediately ashamed and set out to make it better between us…by listening.

Isn’t that what life is about—to make things better for those we love?

The captain and his first mate 1970.

The captain and his first mate 1970. Photo Credit: Bob Peterson

This week I read Treena’s poem Who


  1. Mufaso Says: 7:53 am

    Yelling tends to escalate the confrontation. Both parties feel the need to defend his/her viewpoint. It helps to be prepared and aware of what you are about to say, and to delay an important conversation if you are not in control of your thoughts and emotions.

  2. Dia Says: 8:55 am

    I ask myself often, but not often enough, What, led up to this moment? Or what could I have done differently so that it would not have come to me raising my voice or withdrawing, because I’m not being heard.

  3. Graham Says: 7:42 am

    All of this brings back an idea we practiced for a season, until it became largely unnecessary.
    It started with the old ” count until 10″ we tried counting to nine and speaking out to ourselves, not out loud, the words love joy peace patience goodness kindness gentleness as yes….self control. It really did help as we were able to recall what life could be like if we just gave our ‘new life’ a chance to replace the old one?
    Just a little space ..that’s all we need to make a better choice for those we love?

  4. Jane Says: 9:38 am

    Thank you so much for your post Jean, it really spoke to me where I’m at these days. Yes…all we CAN do is pray! Sure beats yelling! 🙂

  5. Jean Says: 11:47 pm

    Wow – talk about timing – we just encountered this a week ago. Emotions are tricky business. They can come on you and flip in a moment’s notice without warning. My husband was raised by a boisterous mother whose rants haunt him to this day after 44 years of marriage. I am quiet, reserved, and gracious yet he (age 69) still shudders with confusion if he should put the dirty cup in the sink or not. Will he be punished? Will he be scolded? What’s right? All I ask is that if it is breakable put it on the counter – I’ll take care of it. It’s a pity to see him so damaged by years of screaming and uncontrolled emotions. Whenever I raise my voice he immediately gets defensive and accuses me of attacking him which is not true and makes me more frustrated. Case in point just last week. We were at a family gathering and I lost control. I let out a “cry for justice” which totally embarrassed both him and me. He apologized for setting me off which felt sweet to me but I was too wound up, paralyzed, to accept it publicly as I should. We recovered and made a good time of it but now I feel ashamed and sad that I hurt him when in fact I was reacting to him hurting me. He feels hurt that I did not respond and come to his aid to be soothed of any guilt. What a mess. These are those wiles of the devil – those poison darts and flaming arrows. He’s always there to knock you down and trip you up. I’m so glad you gained the fortitude and humility to listen. You are spot on brother. Women need to vent and be heard. That was my exact complaint a week ago. “Can I talk? Just listen! Don’t cut me off, don’t interject”. The poor man was shell shocked. I did not mean to machine gun him but it so annoying when a woman’s flow of words is stifled. I fully agree that the husband is leader of the home and family. Each person in the unit has a purpose and if one is to talk (how God made woman – our curse) then there must be one to listen (why God made Adam to sleep wile He created us gals). The Lord says a ruler has many advisors and in such are many speakers. Listen to all the input and then come to a conclusion – peacefully and unanimously. What are we to do but pray?

  6. Lynn Severance Says: 4:45 pm

    I appreciate the perspective Graham has shared about voices raised being being voices needing to be heard – “a cry for justice”. Surely it took patience to come to that conclusion and a deep love between he and Treena that allowed those steps to be taken as one important keystone in communication.

    I was taken back to the home of my growing up years. It was not a home where such dedication to understanding was a part of the family dynamics. My father was a career military man. He provided well in terms of housing, clothes, food, schooling. But his authoritarian ways made no room for discussion, or praise, or any of us living up to his expectations. He spoke often in a voice raised in anger – or that was how it was interpreted. In hindsight, and with other decisions he made along the road of his life, the “anger” may have been a cry for identity that he only knew behind the mask of having to “be in charge”. How different our lives, as a family, would have been had there been room for that deeper understanding.

    To this day, I “shudder” being around voices raised in anger and treasure being with another who will take time to talk out differences that need to be brought to an understanding. It is the choice I prefer.

  7. Sandra Says: 4:09 am

    Dear Graham, when we get angry we blame others who’s near us sometimes we don’t think we aimed at someone closed to us , the pressure of work, family’s commitment, amongst others things. I think we all have to take stock and take a deep breath and chill and apologies to close to us and say we are sorry for our outburst because we are only human and we do have feelings.

  8. karl Says: 2:40 pm

    Angry outbursts seem to relieve the stress that leads to the climax of any issue but after the initial relieve comes regret and feeling even worse than before.
    I heard it said that when you get angry or bitter its like drinking poison and hope the person we are angry toward will die
    It is just.simply not that way..Anger never solve the problem it only compounds it.Being German it has been so easy to use my ethnicity to make excuses for my angry outbursts,including my wife,children,people at work and also the quiet anger that lingers inside without ever manifested itself outwardly.It wasn’t until recently that I gave this up to the Lord,admitting who I am and telling Him that I can’t do this in my own power.It took time to let go of a lot of things but one by one God has been gracious and take them away one by one. He’s not finished yet and will continue until that glorious day when we meet Him face to face.Until than I heed to what He told the Apostle Paul ages ago.”Let my Grace be sufficient for you” 2 Corinthians 12:9

  9. Leigh Says: 2:04 pm

    Wow I can’t believe I found you again ! I was 18 years old a wife and mother of a new born my husband was In Vietnam for a year.I would watch Jack Lane and then your show would come on.YOU were the one that taught me to cook!!! I am 68 years old now and my granddaughter asked me the other day who taught me to cook when I told her t her the galloping gourmet she thought I was crazy.I am glad glad I found your blog.

  10. Sally andrews Says: 5:32 am

    First I must say Graham, what a stunning couple you were / are and as I later came to know, inside and out! Your message is particularly poignant to me tonight as I reflect on my husbands loud “Hollywood raised” voice and projection, and his latest job causing angry dialogue upon coming home. Rather than thinking its me, and that I must be unpleasant to come home to, I realise I must display Jesus living arms of welcome and respite, and ease his pain! THANKYOU , once again!

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