The Loudspeaker

The Loudspeaker
Nikon FM10 with Sigma 70-210mm 1:4-5.6 on Kodak DXN 400

Growing up in the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, I have seen loudspeakers such as this one installed on the two Presbyterian churches that I had participated in. The sole purpose of these loudspeakers is to broadcast the sound of an in-church service so that people who cannot be in the church during the service, for any reason, are able to hear clearly what is going on in the church.

Of course, with the sound so loud, neighbours of these two churches have complained. The churches, after receiving complaints, would cease broadcasting through these loudspeakers. Well, at least for a short period of time, and then the usual function of which resumed. It is quite funny to see this tug of war between the churches and their respective neighbours, both making their voices known to the other (of course, if I were the neighbours, I would be gnashing...).

Loudspeakers such as those installed on church buildings can also be seen elsewhere. In the small streets, lanes, and alleys of a typical Taiwanese city, it is common to see these people riding on these motor-bikes that have been modified to carry things and, of course, are attached with loudspeakers. These people are normally middle-ages, some even elders, and they would broadcast through the loudspeakers their intentions of slowly riding through these streets, lanes, and alleys. Their intentions include, "sell us your discarded electronics," "would you like your screen windows renewed," and "bring us your recycles." In other words, they are trying to make a living, and the loudspeakers are the only means they can make everyone in these tall, fortified apartment buildings known the services they offer, the voices they have.

Recently, Taiwanese villages, towns, and cities see another implementation of loudspeakers. In the political confrontations hundreds gathered; in the presidential rallies where thousands shouted; in the arena for a better Taiwan where millions participated, loudspeakers were everywhere to be seen. Loudspeakers, again, were used to make voices heard, and, really, everyone who was holding a loudspeaker made sure of that.

Thus we came to this day, March 23, 2008; the day after the presidential election; the day many rejoiced, many mourned. Yet, on this Sunday morning, I again heard voice coming from the loudspeakers installed on the top of my hometown church; an unfamiliar tone that sang a familiar theme: God bless Taiwan. The voice was firm and passionate, and every congress member, despite the political divide, united in one tone that said their hope and love for this land and their unflinching courage to protect this land.

At the end of the day, perhaps what really resonates in all these loudspeakers of churches, motor-cyclists, and presidential supporters is quite the same: come what may, for we are not afraid.