Next time you’re in a social gathering and the conversation lulls, start talking about school. Just the word carries an interesting association for us. Some people have good memories of school, others not so good with things like bullying or struggle. School meant proving yourself against the standards of your friends, parents, and society.
It was a metaphor for life.
A story stuck with me this week out of Pakistan. A terrorist group had broken into a military school and killed more than 150 people including more than 100 children. This was done in retaliation to military activities in the region. A hundred children lost their lives in a war they had nothing to do with.
I was a student in high school myself when Columbine happened and I remember our teachers turning it on to watch on televisions in the classrooms. This kind of thing was so foreign at the time. Schools were safe, our 9-5 jobs while the real world happened outside the walls. Suddenly, when kids could get guns and bring them into a school building to kill people, life was not the same.
Last week, I wrote about why we write. There is something else to add.
As writers we have a responsibility to the world. We are called to be voices in the darkness, to stand up for those who cannot speak, to let our words capture outrage against violence, fury for those who suffer, and hope against discrimination.
Our pages should be fiery sermons delivered digitally and in print calling the world to attention. We should be Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, lone figures shining bright for peace and refusing to go quietly into the night.
We should be matches that light the fires of change.
Yesterday I was talking with a friend from Reading, Pennsylvania, the city that is the topic of my next book-in-progress. She has resided there twenty years now and seen the true depths of poverty and redemption. We were talking about what it meant for her to call the poorest city in the country home.
She looked at me and said:
“You need to tell the story, to tell what’s happening in this city with these people who are struggling.”
She’s my inspiration and her advice applies to you too.
You need to tell your story, so what are you waiting for?