The world we live in is full of chaos, confusion, and crippling criticism. Wars begin, wars end. Hatred grows and so do our egos. We tire of this--yet, we keep circling around in the patterns of our lives unbroken and unchanged. We continue to put on social media personas and protective masks in our interactions with others. We are losing real human connection. The more we lose this connection, the more our humanity suffers and the more indifferent we become to the actual suffering of humanity.
This narrative I am embarking on is not one to criticize, but rather to create. I am determined to create a corner of the world that is safe, accepting, and edifying through vulnerability. Will this cause a great amount of change? Probably not. But, I can no longer sit by the wayside without doing something about the ignorance we all greedily protect in ourselves.
I hope to combat this ignorance through stories--stories that delve into the depths of the human experience and ask hard, but necessary questions. As a graduate in English, I am passionate about the power of stories and language. Some of the greatest catalysts for action have come from literature: The Bible, Qur'an, The Torah, The Hindi Vedas. William Tyndale risked and then sacrificed his life to make translations of the Bible into English. Common Sense, by Thomas Paine, ignited common colonial people to rise up against British rule. Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, fueled the eventual explosion of the Civil War by portraying slavery in shocking ways. Henry David Thoreau, the most introverted of all introverts, wrote Civil Disobedience in the solitude of Walden Pond, but it would eventually reach all the way to India to inspire Mahatma Gandhi's peaceful protests against British oppression, which would in turn, inspire Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement to protest without violence, and in advocation of such, give his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Yes. Words do matter.
My intention is to use the power of language and stories to instill empathy and encourage compassion. Through the course of this blog, I will be retelling the narratives of various and diverse people. My intention is not to push a political agenda--quite the opposite, I would like these stories to supersede mere political leanings, for they are mere, in the pursuit of bridging viewpoints because we are much more similar than we think. Neither is my intention to shock you, but I would hope that you can be challenged by some of these stories because this forces us to reevaluate our perceptions of the world to be unified in a larger whole. No, I do not intend to shock you, but I will not violate anyone's story by censoring their experience or the language in which they express it.
Yes, it does have a place.
If you are offended by the content or language that may appear in this blog, then, perhaps, you should set aside the lens from which you see the world for a page or two in order to take up a different one and truly see through another's eyes. This being said, I will do my best as a writer to be tasteful and purposeful in my writing, while still maintaining the integrity of the narrator's story. What I ask from you in return is to be openminded, not just focus on scraps of the story, and look at the larger picture of creating understanding and being enlightened.
Taking scraps from stories is a dangerous enterprise. Scraps from the Bible were used to justify centuries of massacres during the Crusades. Scraps from the Qur'an of jihad have taken a primarily peaceful concept of eradicating evil within oneself to justify radicalism, not at all representative of the vast majority of Muslims. Adolf Hitler took scraps from other people's stories to create the anti-Semitic narrative of Mein Kampf, which then led to the inception and execution of the genocidal agenda that we know as The Holocaust.
Yes. It does matter what you choose to take away from a story.
Let us create a united front against hatred. Let us be receptive to the happiness and hurt of others. Let us conquer ignorance within ourselves by finding depth in difference, not indifference. We are far more alike than we are different, but those things that make us different are beautiful because they make the scope of humanity more complex, interesting, and expansive.
In my next post, I will tell my own story. I figured that this would be the most appropriate way to start off these narratives, since I can't possibly expect other people to be vulnerable and share their treasured experiences if I don't do the same. Hopefully through this blog, we can, together, begin a journey of attentive listening and authentic compassion and never let it end.