Cynicism makes me rebellious. Complacency makes me rebellious. Heedless greed and entitlement make me rebellious.
I’m rebellious because I still believe.
I refuse to accept that the world can’t be better—not simply in terms of advancement, but as a place where all can pursue joy and wonder and find solace in our universal humanity. Many call me naive; but, knowing where my blood comes from, knowing that there are those who were willing to walk to the grave so that my feet might run unbound, and seeing the glory of what they sought to preserve in the faces of my children, I cannot choose other than to believe.
Typically, I help more because I can and less because “it’s the right thing to do.” In a world where there are those who need a place to sit, why wouldn’t I stand? Why wouldn’t I enjoy the company of a neighbor who no longer remembers me if it still leaves us both laughing? Why wouldn’t I make room for one more person going the same direction, if only to wonder where their path might lead? I’ve prayed with a stranger to a room miles away because, when I needed someone, the desert and the stars sang out to me regardless of my religion. And I was there. And it was easy.
If I can make someone smile, make someone believe tomorrow will be as wonderful if not more so than today, if I can make the weary feel more rested, the wounded more soothed, the angry more understood, by doing something SIMPLE with a bit of consideration, why wouldn’t I? And, all just by being there, being curious, being a little patient, being aware. I do because I can and lose nothing for it; instead, I gain joy, laughter, surprise, delight, and the quiet marvel of the beauty of humanity.
How often do you look at a human being and think they’re beautiful? Not for the symmetry of their face or their coloring or their shape, but because they brim with an energy inescapably human and endearing? That moment in which you understand the charm of humanity within the ecosystem of our world.
I write, and I talk to people; and, I’ve learned to have the conversations people are ready to have and to plant seeds with those still afraid, angry. I may never see them fruit, but I sow orchards for my children, not me. Hope is so often abandoned because it’s seen as too hard or too demanding in the face of persistent cruelty and selfishness. And, maybe I would give in too if I couldn’t see the greatness a little good can do, especially when many do it together. Privileged to be lifted from iniquity by the many hands of my ancestors, I raise my hands as well in both celebration and alongside others to lift yet others to a better world. Because I refuse to accept that this is it, and I continue to believe.
C. Johnson is a humanitarian advocate uplifting joy in all its diversity and supporting inclusive legislation fundamental to civic innovation. They’re also a couch potato who’s had some of the difficult conversations of equality and inclusion while helping neighbors, standing in line to vote, and checking out at the grocery store… because many are not ignorant by choice and simply need someone open to those conversations.