I’m Tired Of This

“Dear Friend,

You, yes, you—put it down.

Right. Now.

I don’t care how important that text message is. I don’t care how hilarious that photo-shopped picture of a demonized infant is. I don’t care if you need to check your grades right now. It’s not important.

As a matter of fact, I’m tired of coming to eat lunch with you every day. I’m tired of that look on your face when you scroll through trash on some website. I can leave right now, if I wanted to. You know, I think I will. I think I’ll just pack up my stuff and leave this table. It’s not like we were talking about anything, anyways.

No, you don’t look aloof. Yes, everyone can see right through that “I’m so preoccupied with my email that I can’t make eye-contact” expression. No matter what it is you’re doing on that screen, I can’t tell you how ridiculous you look to me. Please, just drop it. Look at me. Say something, anything, to me.

I miss you, so dearly much, my friend.

I’m tired of this.”

Letters to World Leaders

A couple weeks ago, I was scrolling through the miscellaneous documents in my Finder, and stumbled across a page captioned, “Write a letter.”

I clicked on the document, and found myself reading through what appeared to be a single-sentence writing prompt. After reading it over a couple more times, I concluded that it was not something I had written. To be honest, I don’t remember who wrote the prompt, where I’d found it, or why I’d decided to type it up on a blank Word document some time ago. But whoever wrote it had an amazing point; so I thought, “Hey—why not do it?”

This is what the prompt says:

“Write a simple letter in your own words, to all world leaders, stating that you would like to see that person respect ALL human rights, and that you want to hear a simple yes or no from them. (imagine the effect if lots of people send this kind of letter?…)”

And so, between hectic bursts of speed-studying and grocery shopping, I’ve been spending the past week drafting letters to six of our world’s most powerful leading politicians.

Here is what one of my letters looks like.

 

“Dear Mr. President,

As I am writing this, you are living your fifth day in as President of the United States of America. Already, I am sure you are receiving a lot of mail filled with relief, loathing, joy, praise, disapproval, uncertainty, despair, anger, etc. Yes, the people are very, very angry with you and your supporters. But, please, do not be quick to ridicule us—I am sure you know that some of us refuse to admit that we, the people, are the only ones to blame for this. Thousands of us have rallied behind you, though thousands more would rather spit at your feet in disgust than have to look you in the eye. I hope you will adjust to this, and come to expect it even more so than in the past few months. You are a politician, now—politics and emotion go hand-in-hand, which inevitably leads to vehement controversy. 

I am writing to you to make one request: please, Mr. President, I urge you to respect all human rights. I am doing my best to put all the terrible things the world has been saying about you behind me, for it is only the fair thing to do. You are no longer Donald Trump the businessman, but President Donald Trump of the United States of America. You deserve a chance to sustain this title in a positive light.

Like I’ve said, I will view you with an open mind, and a cleared vision—but only if you do the same for the rest of us. You say you will listen to the people? Then prove it. When you talk about us, take care to mention the good, not just the “nasty,” or the unchanging. We are past Hillary scandals. We are through with all of the trash on the media, whether it be about you, or any other politician. It is time for the concerns of the humble individual to be taken into account. You, as President, have the extraordinary ability to make that happen.

You must realize that, by becoming President, you have given yourself up for the largest, most impactful cause in the world, as we know it. Screw it up, and you better prepare a substantially-long apology letter. But, if you succeed in bringing more happiness and security—happiness, not greatness—to this country, then you will feel a thousand times more fulfilled than any self-indulgent act could ever reward you with. All we, the people, ask of you is this:

Listen to us, the American people. Even if it is just a few moments throughout your day, forget all that your Vice President has advised you—forget the media, your relatives’ opinions, the ultra-powerful figures you work with daily. Reflect on the people. Never forget us, for if you do, we will know it instantly. 

Listen to the Democrats, the Republicans, the Libertarians, the Anarchists, the Constitutions, the Greens, the Socialists, the Whigs—listen to anyone and everyone. If none of their concerns can alter your decisions or beliefs towards individuals, then please, at best, respect all of our human rights. 

I imagine this letter will either get lost among the many arbitrary government documents and praise-hate letters of others like me. But, if anyone at all ends up reading this, I would much appreciate it if you would take these thoughts into consideration, and perhaps, to heart. Give us an open mind, respect all of our rights and humanity—and we will do the same for you.”

letter

While I did not write letters to all world leaders, I am going to do my best to send out my message either through postal mail, or through email to a select few. The six politicians I have chosen to write are President Donald Trump (U.S.A.), Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Japan), Chancellor Angela Merkel (Germany), President Jacob Zuma (South Africa), Prime Minister Theresa May (U.K.), and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (India).

The chances of my letters being read personally by all six of these politicians are slim to none, but my hope is still aimed towards at least one other human being intercepting my message. I think it would be absolutely amazing if everyone reading this could write at least one letter, however brief it may be, and sent it out to their own country’s leader asking to respect all human rights.

Who knows? That prompt may lead to something, indeed. If I get a response from any of the six politicians, I will be sure to briefly post their reaction (‘briefly,’ for their own privacy, of course).

On a final note, wishing everyone a good weekend, and thank you for reading! Good luck to whoever decides to have a go at this prompt, and feel free to ask me any questions about the structure of my letters, or mailing process. I am open to any prompt suggestions, as well!

So, What Exactly Is A “Cause”?

 

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”  — Dalai Lama

 

“Will you make a contribution to our cause?”

Staring at this string of words, I wouldn’t expect any waves of passion, let alone sympathy, to surge through me. Almost no emotion at all comes to mind. But I skim it over once more.

Our cause.

It’s a positive statement, for sure. Whoever it is that asks for aid, I know they mean well. Of course, after writing this, I realize that the cause could have been something potentially ill-meaning. But without any context, I automatically feel that someone out there is saying these words with a smile, and an amiably-outstretched hand.

A cause is not something that everyone possesses, but almost all warm to the idea of having one. We are guilty after refusing to make a donation, and we cherish the idea of assuming the role of a faithful volunteer. So, what is a ‘cause,’ exactly? And why does anyone even care?

A cause is the result of when an individual is no longer just existing, but impacting. It is when you give yourself to others and the world, expecting nothing in return. A cause is simply the desire to make a difference—not just in your own world, but in the worlds of those who surround you.

One’s job, usually, is not one’s cause. We work in order to gain money, to ‘make a living’—a resource that is used solely for our own benefit, our own survival. A job, or career, only becomes a true cause when you realize that you would persist with it, even if there was no immediate reward.

We all have our cause. Some of us have it tangled deep within the cobwebs of dreams, or swiped from vision with the shadow of procrastination. Causes change, just as we always do, and obstructions vary in degrees of a thousand. But no matter the obstacles, the reason for why we strive towards a cause always remains constant. Whether it is large or small in impact, contributing to our cause is what brings the life back into reality. It keeps us grounded within ourselves, while at the same time, lifts us higher, and closer, to each other.

Without purpose, reality is fractured. Whether we make a contribution, lend a hand in tending to the pieces life has left in our wake, is purely our own decision to make. Of course, one thing remains certain; no action will ever go ignored. So, let us make an effort to keep the positive actions on the forefront of the choices we make. Soon, it may be you who will be voicing this very same request.

“Will you make a contribution to our cause?”

Reflections on Women’s March 2017

nycpolicecar

“We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!”

This was one of the many chants that roared throughout New York City streets, just one day after President Trump’s inauguration. I remember laughing as I shouted this along with fifty other pink-capped men and women, wondering how the world could’ve possibly gotten to this point in time. I signed up for the march expecting a chorus over Trump’s insults, pay wages, and women’s rights—and got a whole lot more. There in the city, signs were hoisted into the air bashing Trump’s environmental beliefs, misogyny, racism, heterosexism, tax issues, and of course, his tendency to spew all this out through his Twitter feed.

The atmosphere was warm and energetic, despite the cold nipping at our feet as we inched along the streets. In all honesty, I absolutely abhor going into the city—I belong in an isolated patch of forest, or a quiet country lane. But standing shoulder-to-shoulder amongst masses of passionate, smiling activists made me swell with pride. This really was America, I realized; to the right of me, a mother nudging her daughter’s stroller into the crowd while chanting a slogan, a father lifting his son onto his shoulders, the boy thrusting his poster into the sky with sheer triumph. I’ve never felt more included, or more in harmony with my surroundings.

Out of all these millions of people marching around the world, I have high hopes that some of them will take a step further, and continue to show up at upcoming rallies, and pitch in with their cause. That said, it is true that the majority of us shouting through the streets were working-class Americans, and life demands us to return to our daily work routines. Some may fall back into pattern, feeling that their single act of resistance was all that they could muster. But, simply put, I doubt that many are going to do this. By coming together, voicing our emotions and opinions, we’ve gathered courage and inspiration for more to be done.

Slowly, but surely, the world has been waking up. Donald Trump’s presidency will crack the fog of indifference, of apprehension that has taken hold of so many of us in recent years. The Women’s March was not just about women, or about Trump—it was the start of a revolution for all. It was about breaking past the narrow focuses on labels and numbers, to be replaced by the worldly concerns of all individuals. This was an emotional experience more than a political one. This was for the climate change activist chanting in unison with the feminist, the child screaming for peace alongside the couple calling out for love. This event brought the world to a moment of clarity; that division has been made necessary for unity to occur, and where it only takes one man to spur a world-wide revolution of millions for change.

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Fun Fact #2: Ruled By the Dead?

Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s Founding Fathers, believed that the Constitution should be rewritten every nineteen years.

In a letter to James Madison concerning the subject, Jefferson had said, “I set out on this ground which I suppose to be self evident, ‘that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living.'”  By this, he’d meant that only those alive are entitled to receiving the rights granted by nature and society. This seems to be a sensible notion; our generation may choose to switch up the ground rules, without being dragged down by boundaries set by generations long dead.

Though the Constitution has been amended almost thirty times since, it has not been completely scrapped and rewritten a single time. A solid Constitution enables a country to follow a secure, predictable path; so it is a preserving facet. Ruled by the dead could be an exaggeration, but new generations living by a Constitution drafted nearly two centuries ago is, in theory, just that.

While We the People being replaced with We the Living is no guarantee, it is certain to say that, yes—we are ruled by the dead. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? I cannot say, except that it is an eerie notion to wrap my mind around, however truthful it is.

“The Revolution Will Be Streaming,” by Saxon Shore

 

My first post of the New Year; a blend of dreamy synths and liberating sentiments. Indeed, if revolutions were to morph into a series of musical notes, what Saxon Shore has created is precisely how one would expect it to sound.

I am no soothsayer, but I hope that by sharing this song 2017 will be full of those aspiring to create little revolutions of their own—changes to be a little kinder, wiser, and more open-minded. For me, 2017 will be the year of change, of hope. This song just may inspire the same beliefs in you.

“I digress.” — How To Talk Politics

Stay composed. 

This is not the proper place to argue.

Politics is not a good conversation starter. 

Not here.

Not now, at least.

I’d avoid bringing up the election in public.

Someone might get offended.

Bring your voice down to a whisper.

Teachers aren’t supposed to say such things.

Don’t ask your uncle who he’s voting for—it might be Trump.

Just…

…don’t even mention it.

Mr. R loves history. Loves discussing it. He loves politics. Loves discussing it. But what is his one fault? His greatest, undoing attribute?

He loves, just loves…to digress.

After the U.S. election, kids came to school crying. A girl sitting a few seats ahead of me had mascara smeared across her cheeks. I’m sure we’re all familiar with Mr. Trump, and I’m sure we’re all familiar with the fact that sobbing people were to be expected on that fateful day. School was dismal. Even the clouds were packed across the sky with shadows.

Every class was a drag. Another sniffling kid. Some huffy teachers. Everyone was emotional. No one was talking. That is, until Mr. R’s class rolled around.

“So. Who here is happy that Trump got elected?”

Our class sat silent. No hands were raised.

“Who isn’t happy that Trump was elected?”

All twenty hands in the room crept hesitatingly into the air. Mr. R took in a long breath. His face was twisting red. We all knew what was coming.

Stay composed.

Here began the forty-minute political rant from our beloved history teacher, a jolly little Italian man who wore striped sweaters and rosy cheeks to work five days a week. He was intimidating, now. We froze before him, too shocked to say a word.

This is not the proper place to argue.

In school? I didn’t think it would happen. 

Teachers aren’t supposed to say such things.

According to who? He obviously didn’t care about the rules. Trump seemed to break every law of presidential etiquette, according to Mr. R. Quite frankly, we didn’t care, either. It was invigorating to hear our teacher rant. It was something fresh. We’d kept it bottled in long enough.

After a good thirty minutes of his organized spiel, Mr. R stood before us. A long pause. “Anyway,” he said, slowly scanning the sea of wide-eyed faces. “I digress.”

Did I learn a lesson that day? Yes.

Say something.

Don’t keep it in. Don’t shy away from a political discussion because the atmosphere isn’t right, or you think a person in your group is a Libertarian. If your whole family is made up of Hillary fans, and you’re leaning towards the more conservative, don’t shy away when your sister sparks a debate over dinner.

Stand by your beliefs—and talk about them. This is not just about the presidential election. This applies to religion, philosophy, literature, education, industry—you name it. Before we take action, before we lash out in anger, let’s use our words.

Be open-minded. Listen to others. Learn from them. People have their reasons, they really do. And you have your’s. So, don’t hide your opinions. Share them, toss them out into the open to be praised, to be criticized, and appreciated.

It fills me with disgust when my family members refer to Republicans with a sneer. “I feel a bit holier, having voted for Hillary,” my grandmother told me recently. I had to bite back a laugh.

Let’s stop with this egotistic mindset. Let’s view each other as people, first, not members of any political party. We are not followers, we are individuals with our own opinions. Don’t shun that Trump supporter who lives down the street. Invite him over for lunch, break it down with him, nice and sweet. Let your voice be heard. And then listen, think, then process, in return.

See that list of rules above? Yeah. Don’t follow that. People will tell you to quiet down, say that someone will feel uneasy, that this is not a dinner-time discussion. Be respectful, be courteous. But don’t shut your mouth.

Let’s all learn to digress a little bit more. Small talk can shield your racing thoughts for a hundred years, but if you feel there’s something more to be said—just say it. Listening to the debate flashing across your screen can rile you, but a thorough conversation with a stranger will enlighten you.

It’ll be risky, of course. People will get offended. Someone always will. But you cannot let that fact keep you from expressing your opinions. Let’s talk politics, and not feel restrained. Every interaction is an opportunity for learning, and you can choose to miss these opportunities—or not.

There are wise words waiting within us all. If the chance to unleash them comes, don’t back away. Take the risk. Digression is not just an excuse—it is a tool. Take advantage of it. Listen, and express. Judgment without discussion will lead us nowhere.

“If you’re not careful,” Mr. R once said, “you’ll learn something new every day. That is for certain.”

So, don’t be cautious with your knowledge. Do not be afraid.

Listen, learn, and share with us all.

Just Like Us

We’ve all seen him.

Standing there, pleading in the ice.

The cars inch forward, creeping past his dark figure. Together, all fifty of us are trapped in this void of tar and frost-studded smoke. We peek out the window, squinting past the traffic.

Yes, it is him. With trembling hands, he clutches the piece of cardboard like a life preserver, for he is alone amongst a whirlpool of crimson tail lights, of squirming black glares. He stands broken. Without fear.

Your car approaches.

Something kicks in your gut. It is so hard—so hard—not to look at his pallid cheeks. His tattered scarf. The cardboard, scribbled over in neon marker, reads, “Homeless. Anything helps.”

We can do two things. We can keep our music flowing into our ears at top volume, and stare blankly at the license plate illuminated before us. We can ignore him. We can save our souls from a moment of inherent unease. We can keep a locked heart.

Or, we can quickly unplug our headphones, and rifle through the glove compartment for a mere dollar. Maybe two. We can roll down the window. Feel our hearts glow with swirling anxiety, with love, as our eyes meet.

“Happy holidays,” he says, beaming as we hand him the crumpled dollar bill.

“Happy holidays, sir.” Shy grins.

“Yeah, I’m just trying to keep my hands warm, you know?” he continues. A broad smile is still sunny across his cracked lips. His eyes, though shadowed, are a brilliant, milky blue. His laugh is warm.

It’s all within five seconds. Before we know it, our car is yards past him. Our hearts are pulsing a mile a minute. Something wonderful has happened. Something strange.

Tears well in our eyes. How can this be right? How could a dollar be all we had to give? How could we not have let him in, brought him to our home, even for just an hour? For a good meal? For some kind words? How could a slip of paper ever help—at all?

We are not so different. One is male, one is female. One is starving. One is depressed. One is living the dream. The other is dying. You are existing. But we are all here, and we are all human.

Why are we afraid to spare a moment? Why are we afraid to give?

He has laughed, just like us. He has cried, just like us. He has sworn and gorged on dreams and lies, just like us. He has a family, somewhere. He has a past. He is human.

And yet, I have seen him on every street corner of New York City. I have seen him begging before the bookshops of little ram-shackled beach towns. I have seen him cowering, spindle-boned, beneath a sari. I have seen him hobbling along crowded cobblestone streets. I have seen him outside my very own home.

Yes, we’ve all seen him. We’ve all had to make that split-second decision. That choice that sends a us wake-up call—forcing us past the glow of our screens, the traffic of our thoughts.

The choice that seems simple enough.

But, tell me.

Is it, really?

 

homelessface

“Intro,” by M83

 

We didn’t need a story, we didn’t need a real world
We just had to keep walking
And we became the stories, we became the places
We were the lights, the deserts, the far-away worlds
We were you before you even existed…

 

Five minutes is all it takes for M83 to illustrate the reason for existence.

I’d love to share my interpretation of the lyrics, but this song is very deserving of you and your imagination to generate your own. For those of you who relish those stifling notions of life, death, and the great beyond, I can assure you this will be quite a dose of poetic inspiration.

Enjoy!

A Plea from Room 105

All I do is learn.

I’m sick and tired of learning.

 

What do I wish to do?

I want not to learn, but to do.

 

I want to discover.

I want to create.

 

I want to stop all the absorbing, and forgetting—

start giving, and remembering.

 

I want to make a change, not just in routine.

I want to impact. Not wait for the fall.

 

I don’t want to be the best of them all.

I want to soar, on my own accord.

 

Here I am, not boxed in, not at all.

I am roped down.

 

Yes, my mind is free to wander, to dream

But it’s a give-and-take scheme.

A sugar-coated plotting.

My life set on a one-track train

determined by a letter,

A.

 

From the very beginning, I was drowned

within a crucible none other than life itself.

It is the illusion that as I grow older, I grow

Freer.

 

Numbers are my love-hate relationship

Charting my course towards the end.

An end that sucks up—

everything.

All that is too imperative

for waste.

 

 

This cinderblock-classroom teaches me nothing, don’t they see?

Eighteen years shut up in a dream

Where my pen shuffles across endless seas of blue lines

If I tell you how many times I have written the letter, ‘x’

You might just cry

quaking with laughter.

 

It is not the end of the world, they say

These days of youth are a blessing—for today.

I have not witnessed the gore-webbed flesh of soldiers, face-to-face

But I’ve seen thousands within the glistening pages of AP U.S. History.

So am I thankful to be locked up, here?

To cherish this hushed moment of solitude?

Of keyboard clicks and time bombs

crooked spines, fist-fights?

 

For all the hours I’ve spent finding the radius of Circle A

and tallying the deaths of truths, empires, and dramatis personae

I could have been lending a hand

to the blind.

The sick.

The starving.

The decrepit.

I could have been saving a life

Lifting trembling fingers from a trigger.

My shoulders are strong, from carrying paper and lead

though my hands are scrawled all over with the dead.

With the lives I could have saved.

The tears I could have caught.

That grasp on adventure, that slipped away too, too fast…

 

Stop it.

 

Why even bother, wishing for such things?

Life is not a game to play, don’t you understand, love?

You may rebel all you like, my dear, but “I’ve saved lives” is not guaranteed

to make a dent in your

Future applications.

 

Suck it up, my friend.

You are never to be defined by a letter, number, or any photograph

Just your time.

 

See, the thing is

I know more than you ever could,

about the world.

But tell me, please, I beg of you—

what does life look like, outside an iron-barred window?

How could you survive, without a pyramid of text to keep you sane?

Calculations to stimulate your brain?

What’s a heart without a label?

Your ways confuse me, Freedom.

I already know, that wars don’t happen in other worlds.

 

I just choose to ignore them.

 

I could go on and on with this ramble.

Keep my book eclipsed beneath binder rings, pen moving at a generic pace

But the bell is about to shriek

for the hundredth time this year.

And I will have to move on

and learn about

 

I forgot.