World Voice Day occurs annually on April 16, and there is a unique theme each year.
The World Voice Day theme for 2021 is: One World, Many Voices.
I have reflected upon this since it was first chosen in the fall of 2020, a year which is irrevocably linked to the coronavirus pandemic, social unrest and political
discord. On the surface, it seems a great theme for these times; it also prompts one to think more deeply about interpretation.
The words One World strike me as having multiple interpretations. One is a literal sense of a single planet Earth. A more philosophical sense invokes images of solidarity and unity of purpose — or less favorably, images of toddlers or sadly adults screaming “mine, mine” and fighting over that one world.
The words Many Voices also bring to mind multiple images. There are the voices of a well-conducted ensemble, weaving together into harmonious music. The contrasting image of people shouting with a goal of drowning out other voices also comes to mind; discordant tones lacking synchrony or harmony.
So, One World, Many Voices is a wonderful theme, but I guess open to interpretation. As I continued thinking about it, it occurred to me that there are both expressive and receptive elements to genuine communication and dialogue. Right? Listening, really listening, to other voices is an essential part of that calculus.
Perhaps an opportune interpretation of this theme is actually: One World, Many Conversations? How about it?
On World Voice Day this year, it would be a great message if we all promoted and practiced reciprocal sides of effective communication: talking and listening.
Norman D. Hogikyan, M.D., FACS
Professor and Associate Chair for Professionalism and Culture
Director, Vocal Health Center
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery