For The Sake of Humanity I Won’t Be Quiet

November 6, 2013 Kristance Harlow
Selfie in the sun

People who know me aren’t all that surprised I became a writer, I’ve never been one to have an idea and be quiet about it. Sure, as I’ve gotten older I’ve tempered my expressiveness into a calm art form. I even found I needed to quit debate in college because I took it too personally and it was too emotionally taxing for me. I care, sometimes too much. I care about people’s stories. I care about the truth. I care about the ‘fact’ that there is no such thing as truth. I care about multiple opinions. I care about finding voices where there seem to be none. I care about sharing my life with the world. I probably don’t care enough where I should, I’m not a vegetarian (anymore), I buy clothes that were definitely made in sweatshops, and I am not the most fitness consciousness person. I care about the freedom of thought. What I don’t care for, is anger. I also don’t care for close-mindedness.

To me to be open-minded is not to necessarily be of one political leaning or another, nor is it to have a particular religious belief or philosophy. It simply means being interested in all the stories and leanings that everyone else has, and to give as much credence to them as you do your own. To let others believe as they will, even if you hold fast to your own personal ideology. It means to be willing to alter an idea, to be open to the possibility that you do not know everything and that there is room in us all for improvement and change.

I’ve found that being a writer can cause controversy. Behind the shield of a computer screen and the sword of a keyboard, people lash out more harshly than they would to your face. People may find your choice of topics controversial and be upset that you’ve written about a topic they are not fond of. Friendships can be scarred by it and families splintered.

Regardless of this, I cannot, will not be silent. It is not in my nature to stop talking. I may be an introvert at times. I’m able to sit at a gathering and be perfectly content with my own silence. When I do have something to say though, I say it. I’m not a fan of small talk, for me it’s tedious and uninteresting. I want to talk about is ideas, about life, about the big picture. I also want to preserve my relationships regardless of what I choose to write about.

Where do speakers, writers, artists, and all those who express ideas and emotions in their work find the strength to carry on through the controversy?

When I was writing for my college newspaper, I experienced my first real shock of the controversy that writing can cause. I was writing about a poll that students took (a non-newspaper poll, I might add) that rated the quality of the different landlords in our college town. I attended a meeting where students talked about their experiences and interviewed several people who told me about their unique rental horror stories. I wrote about it in the paper, I noted that the poll was a particular poll, I reported the facts of what students thought. Not that the poll was a direct reflection of the facts, the article was about the POLL not the landlords. I posted a link to my article on this blog, way back when it was just That was when I wrote about random topics like reality TV or flashmobs or political opinions. The shitstorm that ensued turned me away from writing for several years. I was told to retract my statements and to take down my blog by landlords who sicked their lawyers on me. Given little support by my newspaper and even less guidance by my university, I didn’t know what to do. I deleted the blog and stopped writing for the paper. I focused on academia and turned away from my passion for writing. Besides my personal journals and academic papers, I was not writing anymore. I stopped doing what I loved.

Now, as I’ve rediscovered my passion and my writing career is progressing, I’m getting hired to research and write articles about emotional topics. I’m witnessing the negative effects that my writing sometimes invokes. This time, however, I cannot be silent. To speak ideas, to tell stories, and to tell the truth about people’s humanities is what I am passionate about doing. I move to different countries so I can see how people all over the world live. I love travel because I believe cultural diversity is as important to the health of this planet as biodiversity. The diversity of ideas is what will save this planet from destruction. If everyone lived the same way, not only would things be incredibly boring, but there is no way there are resources to support a world of one track minds. If this was six years ago I’d have cried, apologized, and tried to find something else to do because the anxiety would be too much for me. As much love as I have for the world, as much as I care about my family and friends of all creeds and beliefs and political leanings, I have to tell these stories. I have to express the ideas that I have and try to ignite the flame of constructive conversation of opposing ideas. I cannot now, nor will I ever, be silent. For the sake of humanity, our stories must be told.

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  1. janstring on November 13, 2013 at 10:46 am

    You go girl…

  2. Chris on November 9, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Good for you! I wonder how many writers have been bullied into silence with the threats of lawsuits, or even worse. Even in my experiences as a travel writer, it is surprising how quickly people (including editors!) will try to squash or soften truth, ie "If you tell them so many people got sick on the cruise, who will want to go?". Or, another example, "if you write anything

  3. mplanck on November 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    A tremendous statement of purpose and the love of truth however it may differ among religions, nations, and people around the globe.A voice crying in the wilderness may be a sentinel to remind people that truth and justice are not the property of one political or religious system, but a never-ending quest.

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