Chris Guillebeau is one of my favorite writers and earlier today he wrote on Twitter: “If you don’t use your voice now, why should anyone listen to you later? What will you tell a future generation that asks ‘Where were you?'”
This isn’t the first time in the past week I have seen the call to speak up. Each time I read these calls to action, I ask myself, “Am I speaking up?” I often feel like I am not. I feel guilty for not posting my thoughts on social media. I feel judged. I feel forced to say something when I’m not certain what is going on yet. I am uninformed and doing the best I can to stay informed. I feel out of place in the conversation. I feel inadequate.
“You’re on the wrong side of history, Chris.”
“If you aren’t condemning, you’re condoning, Chris.”
“You don’t have time to consider what is going on, Chris.”
“Look at all these people protesting, Chris. Why aren’t you there? Don’t you care?”
“It’s either-or, Chris. There is no middle ground. Remember what Jesus said about spitting out lukewarm food.”
I am speaking up because I’m showing up for the people who matter most in my life.
Through my reflection on the subject of speaking up, I came to the realization that I am speaking up, but in different ways. The most important way that I speak up is that I show up for my students, ready to teach them, to guide them, to give them everything I have, to learn from them, and to serve them. Regardless of their politics, gender, religion, sexuality, beliefs, I show up for them. I care for them. I want them to use the skills I teach them to make the world a better place.
I show up for my wife. I show up for my family. I show up for my business and clients. I show up when I don’t want to. I show up when the world is going to hell. I show up when the world is at peace.
To allow myself to be provoked into other areas of speaking introduces the possibility that I dilute myself from my area of influence and importance. I am able to affect change in the lives of those closest to me. I may never change a life expressing my beliefs online, but I have an opportunity face to face.
My Manifesto for Life: Creativity, Curiosity, and Culture.
I offer myself a reminder of how I should operate in these troubled times. I suppose it is my creative manifesto for life. A belief in creativity, curiosity, and culture.
I believe that the point of creativity, apart from making a living when possible, is to make the world a better place.
It is to express beauty and hope by shining light into darkness.
To tell stories of hope, peace, and transformation by overcoming adversity.
I believe that curiosity is paramount because I don’t know everything. Curiosity keeps me humble.
I want to understand those who are not like me, which is everyone. Without curiosity, I will always assume that people that look like me are the same as me and the people that don’t look like me are nothing like me.
Without curiosity, growth and transformation is impossible. There will be a lack of depth and substance.
Diversity of thoughts and ideas is of utmost importance in my daily life. I learn when I listen. I grow when I share and discuss. Without dialogue and discussion, I might as well stand in front of a mirror yelling at myself. When I hear something I don’t like, I have to remind myself to listen. When I hear something I agree with, I must pause from letting it enter my heart so that I don’t stop listening to those I disagree with.
Culture is an expression of arts and humanities, of science and religions. It is a place where the Earth is both thousands and billions of years old. It is a place of faith and reason. When I listen to the stories of old mixed with the moments of today, I grow and learn.
Welcome to my idealism.
These thoughts and ideas can easily be dismissed as utopian and farfetched. They are almost impossible to instill in a society because they require sacrifice, compromise, patience, and hope. They require context, fact-checking, and belief that there are such things as facts. They require faith and kindness. They require moments of correction and the expression of anger. But never is there a place for hatred and fear, manipulation and lying.
As I speak up, I think about the world I want to create with my art and life. As I pursue projects, as I teach others, as I live and celebrate life, as I pray, as I weep, these are the thoughts I think about.
When leaders act in their own best interests, these are the thoughts I think about.
When the world crumbles and all hope is lost, these are the thoughts I think about.
As the sun sets and rises again in the morning, these are the thoughts I think about. They motivate me to get out of bed. They fill me with hope for the future.
This is how I will show up each and every day.