Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s last words were, “More light.” Fitting that a writer and philosopher would go out with these words, words that describe something that society has not stopped seeking.
I’m always searching for more light, both literally and metaphorically. I’m not one of those people who like to just sit around in darkness. I turn lights on as a pass through rooms, as soon as I wake up, the minute it gets a little less-than-optimally bright. It’s currently 12:42 on a sunny afternoon, and I have the blinds open on both windows in my living room, the overhead light is on, and the lamp in the corner is on. I am constantly following the sun as it traces its pattern in the sky, racing time to get just a little bit more sunlight. I sleep with my television on because darkness is unsettling. More than anything, I just want a little more light.
Darkness is unsettling; I just want a little more light. I want to be that light. This is where things get messy and complicated, because my three word self-summary is ‘messy and complicated.’
When I talk about metaphorical lightness, I don’t mean it in a ‘lighten the mood,’ kind of way. I actually don’t mind when things are serious, which might be shocking because I’m always joking around. There’s a time and a place for being reflective and real and raw. There’s a time to be quiet; the trouble is that most people are uncomfortable with it. I used to be, but I’m learning to appreciate meaningful silence. I’m learning to be comfortable with being alone and introspective–a continuous process for someone who is so extroverted it hurts. No, when I talk about lightness, I’m not talking about a break from the heavy. In fact, we need to embrace the heavy in order to find more light.
The world is an awful place most of the time. There is so much hate here. We live in a world full of prejudice, hunger, oppression, and poverty. Every single day since the dawn of time, people have woken up to the choice of continuing that or changing it, and they chose to continue. Most people always choose to continue. It’s easy. Why try to actively work for change when they can just be good people? Why not indirectly allow bad things to happen? It’s not like we’re the ones contributing to it, right? We’re just not standing up for change, and that’s different.
At the same time, the world is beautiful because there are people who wake up every morning and choose change. There are people who refused to be silenced and fought for what they believed in–Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackie Robinson, Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Malala, the list goes on and on. Change has come from the sweat, tears, and often blood of those who were victims of oppression. It’s about damn time those of us who are lucky enough to be in positions of power fought alongside them. It’s about time we bled for them, too. There is so much potential for love here, if only we cultivate it.
In the past, I’ve been guilty of indirectly allowing oppression to continue. I’ve chosen not to donate to those in need, to stay silent while others were shamed for their skin color or religion or sexual orientation, to pass up my chance to be both an advocate and an activist. I can’t do that anymore. I cannot sit idly by while the darkness presses in on those less privileged than I am. I cannot hide my bleeding heart any longer. It’s time for me to make a difference, to become that revolutionary I’m always talking about. It’s time for me to do my part. It’s time for me to stop seeking more light and start giving more light.
I’m a very non-confrontational person. Sure, I may argue with someone every now and then, but usually not over the important things. I don’t like to hurt feelings or condemn people. I’m afraid of being too loud, of saying things that, even though they may be right, hurt those I love. I’ve always struggled with whether or not what I believe is the right thing or the wrong thing because it’s so radically different than what those around me believe. However, as I’ve gotten older and gotten to experience things those around me never will, I realize that I’ve always been right. My heart has not led me astray. I believe in the right things–equality, justice, kindness, love. It’s time for me to not only use my actions to convey those beliefs, but also my words. It’s time to stop being afraid.
It’s November, and the time for resolutions is rapidly approaching. My mission to be better in 2016 has been pretty successful (at least I think so; I’ll have to actually look at what those exact resolutions were and see what progress I’ve made, but it feels like a lot and that’s worth noting as well). My goal for 2017 is to be louder, brighter, so kick-ass and compassionate that you can’t ignore me. I’m still figuring out exactly what that means, but I’ve got a few ideas.
I’m going to continue to give back. I’m going to continue to pour my time, energy, and money into HOBY and ASLFL because young people are the future and the strongest revolutionaries there are; they are more than worthy investments. I will continue to work with high school children through my job, because breathing life into those in need is a full-time job, not just something to do for three weeks out of the year. I’m going to start allocating money to donate to worthy charities–ones that fight to end hunger and poverty, ones that provide safe spaces for women, people of color, and the LGBT+ community, ones that spread love. I’m going to do my part to be an advocate, because I’m not sure I’m ready to be an activist just yet. Maybe in 2018.
I’m going to use my voice for the things that matter. I will not ever stop fighting for the rights of those who do not have enough. I will not ever stop caring about those who are suffering. I will not be stifled. If I cannot find more light, I will become the damn light. I will shine so brightly I can be seen from miles away. I will become a lighthouse for those who are lost and hurt and desperately need a safe landing. I want not only to make a difference in the world, but to help others make a difference. I will foster creativity and intelligence and every ecstatic impulse and spark of madness I see. I will fan the flames of revolution.
You remember that list I made of people who fought for change? You know how I said the list could go on and on? Well, any list I make, or most people make, wouldn’t even begin to scratch the surface because so many who fought for things like the women’s right to vote were overlooked because they were minorities. I don’t want to overlook anyone. I don’t want to speak over anyone. I want to support those who know more about things than I do, while still educating those who know less. The Black Lives Matter movement can never truly be my fight because I’m not black; however, I can actively support that movement by advocating for those who are black and not making it about me. It’s not about me–none of this is about me, really. Please do not take this that way, because that’s not my intention. Both this post and this mindset are about all the people who get ignored because their suffering makes others uncomfortable. It should. Take that discomfort and fight for change. Please, help me fight for change.
Every day, I wake up with the ability to choose. Every day, I will choose change. Every day, I will choose more light.