Travels with Charley was one of John Steinbeck’s final novels. It’s about a journey he made across America with his dog named Charley in a vehicle called Rocinante, named after Don Quixote’s horse. He wanted to see America first hand, so he could write from experience. He aimed to “tell the small diagnostic truths which are the foundations of the larger truth.”
His journey starts in New York, heads up to Maine, then West to Washington State. He is a master story teller, telling us of the colorful people he met along the way, brilliantly mixing interesting conversation with insightful narration. It is a warm book, with some humor mixed in.
One of the most thought provoking sections of the book occurs in New Orleans. He arrived there during the Fall of 1960 to attend a demonstration against Ruby Bridges, a six year old girl who was courageously becoming the first African American to attend an all white elementary school in the South. He was sickened by the hateful words and actions during the demonstration, but would “not let illness blind me after I came so far to look and to hear”.
He acknowledged that there are many haters in the world, but asked “Where were the others?” and concluded “I don’t know where they were. Perhaps they felt as helpless as I did, but they left New Orleans misrepresented to the world. The crowd, no doubt rushed home to see themselves on television, and what they saw went out all over the world, unchallenged by the other things I know are there.”
Writing so beautifully in the America of 1960, was his way of challenging the hatred, that was left unchallenged on that day in New Orleans. His words inspired some of the other things he “knew were there” to materialize.
His words continue to inspire today and are one of the inspirations for starting A Kind Voice.
His question, ‘Where were the others?’, can be extracted from the circumstance he was writing about and placed into the circumstances many of us encounter in our everyday lives.
When we are feeling a bit alone or just have a desire to talk; some turn to family, friends, co-workers, classmates etc… Others reach out to counselors, crisis hotlines, religious organizations, social groups like Meetup.com and they are all great ways to connect. However there are times and situations where these outlets are not easily accessed or we are just uncomfortable going these routes.
This is where A Kind Voice comes in. A Kind Voice is a community of volunteers standing by to have a conversation on just about anything you’d like to talk about – from a book you read, to a movie or game you saw to a personal situation you are experiencing. Just knowing a kind voice is only a phone call away creates a new and positive space where we can all can connect. Where we can be kind voices for each other.
What do these kind voices sound like? Below is a montage of our volunteers being interviewed on A Kind Voice Radio, explaining why they volunteer and telling their stories.
John Steinbeck and his Travels with Charlie are there for all to read. Rocinante and some of the authentic articles from their journey are in a museum. His thoughts, their journey, live on and continue to inspire new stories.
The story of A Kind Voice is one of the living stories their journey has inspired. The hope is as our story progresses others will join us on this journey and we will organically grow into a big enough organization so that anytime, anyone asks ‘Where are the others?’ or ‘Where is a kind person to talk with?’ that it becomes common knowledge that, they’re only a phone call away. We’re only a phone call away.