“If you can’t do what you love, fight against what you hate.” This was once said to me while I was on my first trip across Canada. Seeing one’s own country for the first time is a religious experience; you feel its winds, taste its seas, and bring yourself to a connection you never knew was possible. The people you meet are your people, and the words that are exchanged bind you to them like air in your lungs.
The comment was said offhand by a fellow traveler in the back of a 40ft RV that sped across the vast expanse of trees and lakes. For the speaker, it must have seemed like a simple statement of sage wisdom or a conversation starter while the hours seemed to drag into one another. I remember sitting silently, my eyes out the window and my heart beating through my shirt as his words shook me. I didn't know what I wanted to be but I knew those words were more true than anything I had ever heard before. It haunts me and it echoes.
There is no question in my mind that everyone has a purpose. We are all here to change the world we live in through action or inaction. Though you may hide or try to blend into the background, your simple presence on earth reverberates through everything. Your first breath changed the life of everyone in that hospital room, from your mother or father to the doctor who had to reschedule due to your timely arrival. Every time your life touches another’s you send them on a path of unpredictability. You matter and have mattered since the beginning of your existence until the end (and, in many cases, long after). However, as we get older and develop a full view of ourselves we are given a choice to become passive or aggressive in our interactions with the world. We will always shape it, but we may get some say in how we are going to shape it. This can be from the most mundane of occurrences to those times when individuals change the world. So I ask the reader, when do you take a stand? When do you stop something that you feel is wrong or speak out about something you believe is right? How far must you be pushed till you speak out about what you love or what you hate? If you are one of those who are outspoken right from the get go, how do your words or actions produce tangible results? Do you feel that there is no reason to take a stand? If you are one of those who do not speak out but see the inequalities or problems with the world, at what point will you take action? I do not have these answers but I do think we must look inside ourselves. Well thought out action is one of the most beautiful abilities of humans, while thought without action can be one of the most destructive. So easily can we fall into the pit of cynicism, where we speak out but enact no real change. The Greek word kunikos, which cynic comes from, was originally an adjective meaning "doglike". So I ask you, as I often ask myself, “Am I just a dog barking, spewing nothing but pointless sounds or am I a creature of action?”