August 19th, 2012
So far this year, I’ve read somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 pages. As I’ve started to read more, I’ve started to watch TV, movies, and Youtube less, because they are simply boring and shallow in comparison. War and Peace, in particular, deeply touched me. Lately I have been reading the Wheel of Time series, which has its own unique characteristics.
Whether an epic (or super-epic, such as Wheel of Time) novel, or the Sherlock Holmes series, or nonfiction works, there is something magical about reading a book. We often see characters, real or fictional, that rise from obscurity to do great things for the world. We are transported in time and place to a time or place we will never be able to experience, perhaps because it is long past, or perhaps because it never was. But in any case, we can be inspired.
I am reminded of this quote:
“The people crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.”
If someone told me that a street vendor in Tunisia would, in less than a year, cause the overthrow of 4 dictatorships and reform in a handful more, I would have, yes, thought that was crazy. And while Mohamed Bouazizi isn’t a household name in much of the world, he managed exactly that. But not just him. It took crazy unarmed people to occupy Tahrir Square, some to die, for progress to be made in Egypt.
This story is written all over history. People have done the impossible, have defied all odds, through sheer belief that they could. Civil rights have been granted due to the leaders we all know, but also due to the millions of marchers we don’t. Changing the world doesn’t have to mean that the world knows you. It just has to mean that you love the world, as Tolstoy pointed out:
Love hinders death. Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.
Whatever your stance on religion, this is a powerful quote. Sometimes particles of love might look crazy. But isn’t it then that they are the most alive? Isn’t it then that they are the greatest hindrance to death and despair?