I know all of you are busy typing away the latest scandalous tweets of President Trump or pursuing the next big scoop of your entire career but I would like all of you to pause for a moment and ask this simple question: Why am I doing this?
I’m sure at least once in your life you have asked this question to yourself and more often than not you’ll brush it off with “I need to put food on the table” or “It’s my job”. However, you know that in your heart, you’ve lost the answer. Why? When you first started the job, your mind and heart wanted to accomplish something, something you know is bigger than yourself. You once possessed that fire, that passion for writing about injustice, for writing about people and their lives, for writing for making a difference. You soon understood that those idealistic aspirations were mere dreams that are soon to be extinguished by the cruel world of journalism and politics. The fire that you once had for writing slowly dies as you realise that writing, reporting… these forms of media will never be enough to stop the next bomb or the inevitable rise of global warming. I know you are slowly detaching yourself from feeling, experiencing the pain and hurt and suffering each article you have to write of Migrants crossing the EU or the oppression faced by many, dehumanised by the prevailing waves of information swarming your mind constantly that it comes white noise.
You want to not feel, don’t. Each word, each print, each message can impact the lives of many around the world. For too long, we’ve become emotionless, insensitive to other people’s suffering because of how painful their suffering is; we see terrible things happening to others, how we decided to use fear as the answer for every action we do. I know feeling emotions is hard, much more so to write them and experience the pain all over. But, isn’t what we feel, what we love… makes us alive? Love, hate, happiness, anxiety; they all are emotions that we feel and experience as human beings. You wield a power so great, it can shake the fundamentals of our own principles. That power is words. Your words can inspire people, comfort people. It can make people feel loved, it can also let people feel sympathetic and grieved. What is a word? A word is a mere messenger of what we believe in, what we feel and what we think, it is the emotions that each and every one of you chooses to put into your writing that grasps the hearts and minds of each reader. I know some of you who choose to feel, choose to speak out of issues that people are too afraid to do so. I also understand that most of you feel trapped and oppressed, not knowing whether writing the things you truly want to write is worth the risk. As writers, no, as humans, we are gifted with the power to feel emotions and bond through them.
You know that despite having all these power to inspire, you also have the power to destroy. William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar once said:
“Men may construe things after their fashion, clean from the purpose of the things themselves.”
I know why you do it, you have to and it is a fact. It isn’t too late to make a difference, you just have to pick up your laptop or pen and write the truth and only the truth. No matter how hard it may be, the truth will always prevail. It is how you convey that truth to your readers and guide them, sympathise with them, fight for them that can save people.
You might not know how to fight with your fists, I certainly don’t. But, you know how to fight with your words. Then maybe, maybe the fire that had been put out by the dehumanisation of your occupation can start again.
And that fire, no matter how small or weak it may be, can start a revolution.