“If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind…
“Yet it is as evident in itself, as any amount of argument can make it, that ages are no more infallible than individuals; every age having held many opinions which subsequent ages have deemed not only false but absurd; and it is as certain that many opinions now general will be rejected by future ages, as it is that many, once general, are rejected by the present.”
– John Milton (1644)
There’s an unspoken courage to writing. To pencil dissent. To type emotion. To defy. To question. To dare. To go against.
To make the natural unnatural – or to make the unnatural natural.
To recognize that every era has its own natural makeup of things, its own natural order of being, its own definition of normalcy, its own idea of acceptance and tolerance.
But not to accept it blindly. To rather think. To ask. To seek.
Ideas change. People change. Societies change. And humankind thus evolves and progresses.
To be a writer at the forefront of societal transformation. To contribute. To write ideas knowing that they may not be met with welcome. That they may not be received by your peers, tutors, family, friends.
To be young and, in spite of everything, you write. You write knowing that your work is not subtracted from the equation of future repercussions. And in spite of uncertainty, of fear, of doubt, you write from your humanity, from you. You write from human experience. Not just from your own, but from those who surround you. From the role models, colleagues, communities, enemies, loved ones, hated ones, who left a part of them with you – making your writing your own, while also reflecting the shadows and impact of others in your work.
Looking at an issue and seeing wrong, but seeing an ocean of obstacles. Yet not abandoning the question. But instead transforming your penciled voice, abstract colors of thought and argument, into black and white – letters, words becoming creativity and passion onto virgin pages once naked and blank, once empty of humanness.
Knowing that you are but one. Knowing that you are but you. Still taking the universe on, regardless. And seeing purpose. Self-justified, self-given purpose, but purpose nonetheless.
Believing that if you write on an issue, if you dare to write, then that issue will not loose its importance, and continue to live through your words, through the timelessness of language.
Understanding that writing is documenting. Writing is sharing. Writing is making the mortal immortal. Writing makes the silence speak. It makes the forgotten remembered. The unwritten written. It cultivates and celebrates memory. It challenges the comfortableness of apathy, ignorance and greed. It adds to who we are as a community, as a people, as a whole.
To be a writer is to be a storyteller. And it’s to make stories transcend through time and borders. To remind others that, collectively, our community is a myriad of stories interacting with one another. A reminder that our actions affect others, that every person is not for him or herself, that islands do not exist in human collectiveness.
And that is why it is also a message of hope. Hope to those who believe that change is impossibly monumental or that the status quo cannot be overcome. To those who believe that their humanity is a solitary experience. To those who fail to see – or who have not been allowed to see – that we humans are indeed bound by one another.
Writing is more than an art. It’s an expression of our values, of our heritage. It’s a testimony of our identity. Of our belonging. Of our selves. Of our very essence.
Photo du coucher de soleil à Edmonton | Edmonton sunset photo: Courtoisie de Julianna Damer, C’est moi [Say-mouah] sur Tumblr
Stéphane Erickson holds a Bilingual Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta and is currently a J.D. and LL.L. candidate in the Programme de droit canadien at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.