In one of the many societies I created in elementary school, I decided that not only would there be no laws, there would be no crime. And I meant this not as “well of course there’s no crime if there are no laws to break,” but rather as “there are no laws because no one needs them to know the difference between right and wrong.” There were to be no killings. No non-consensual transfer of property. No thwarting of people’s pure identities—only acceptance and love. There were to be no weapons, no human rights violations, and although I doubt I knew it existed at the time, no rape.
I remember wishing that that was how my actual society was, too (after all, that was the whole point of creating new ones), and wondering how it wasn’t. Wondering how people could kill each other, how people could steal, how people could flaunt weaponry and words with the intent to harm.
Of course, at that age I knew very little of human nature. I knew about the fallibility of human bodies, to an extent I still can’t quite imagine. I knew love, I knew apathy, I knew hurt. But I did not know the causes, or to what extent they could influence actions.
One of my favorite pictures of myself was taken this past summer, by my sister and her little Fujifilm instant camera. In this picture I stand, body twisting to smile back at the camera, on a path by the banks of a stream that winds through what can best be described as a meadow. You can barely see the edge of my brother in the background, hopping along the path on rocks he seems to blend into, mountains and pine trees and grass cluttering up the landscape. The colors are vibrant, but even they don't do justice to the beauty and wonder my family saw that day, as we meandered like the wild goates we are through Rocky Mountain National Park, only maybe an hour west of my father's birthplace.
It's one of those pictures that you love not just because you like how you look in it or because you're with your favorite people, but because of how it makes you feel. And it's one of those pictures that makes you feel good not just because of the memory of that place or that moment or that day, but because the picture itself brings back those feelings of wonder and amazement, of breathing fresh air and being free. Simply seeing that picture does not make me miss it, it makes me excited for all of the times I get to do that again.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is someone we have all heard of. We have all talked about him in school. We have all listened to at least part of his "I Have A Dream Speech," we all know about his significance in the movement to end segregation in the United States.
He's a very important historical figure, of that we have no doubt. And although I used to get annually annoyed when we discussed him in school (as I still do with Anne Frank and 9/11, for various reasons you probably don't want to hear), I am now a massive fan. For more than just the whole race thing, for more than just his famous speech (although that is incredibly important and I am incredibly grateful he brought about that specific change, etc.). I am a fan of Martin Luther King, Jr. because of who he was as a person. Because of his passion for right.
MLK was not afraid to stand and push for what he wanted, what he needed, what the world needed. I have read his Letter from Birmingham Jail, a letter written to the multitudes of clergymen who had criticized his actions. He wrote this letter in a peaceful and articulate manner, outlining what he does and why he does it. He says, "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws," a phrase I have oft quoted. And I quote this not because I am seeking to justify reckless acts, but because, as Alexander Hamilton says in Lin-Manual Miranda's "Non-Stop," "I’ve seen injustice in the world and I’ve corrected it." (Or, intend to, anyway.) MLK wrote that "One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty." Martin Luther King, Jr. was not breaking laws and protesting to start an aimless fight but to finish a fight that had been started in the hearts and minds of the more just sects of humanity centuries prior. He was fighting for what was right, which I'm sure you've oft been told to do yourself. He was making the decision to stop staying quiet.
People get really into that whole New Years' Resolutions "new year, new me" kind of thing. And although I've never really been someone to give myself elaborate (or at the very least, formal) goals about things, I love the idea of it. I love the idea of that whole "start fresh" mentality. In early January of 2013, I would end a lot of sentences with "but what the heck, it's 2013!" In the social media world, I suppose this is called "rebranding."
And so, I am rebranding.
But I got sick of waiting for this summer. New year, new me, right?
Love Letters and Blog Posts is no more. I would like to formally welcome you all to The Glitter Bonfire.
So, it looks like this year is done.
2016 has somehow gotten a reputation for being absolutely terrible. But at what point did we all just sort of simultaneously decide that it was the worst year ever? I certainly don’t remember making that decision. I thought it was an excellent year, actually.
I recognize the reasons we thought it was terrible: continuing chaos in the Middle East, a continuing refugee crisis, continuing terrorist attacks, continuing world hunger and poverty, continuing threats to our environment (both natural and man-made). There was an over abundance of deaths of famous and important people (or so I have been told), and a pretty ridiculous American Presidential Election came to an unsatisfying end. I recognize that terrible things happened. I recognize that in certain categories, 2016 was terrible.
But I also recognize the amazing things that happened. With most tragedies, quality art blossomed out of them. We had a victory (or at least the strong beginnings of one) at Standing Rock. We got another Star Wars movie, and another Harry Potter movie (opinions on quality notwithstanding). We got a freaking Harry Potter script for a freaking sequel play. New music was released and new movies came out and Kickstarters got all their funding and people who didn’t have jobs before got jobs and people bought houses and cars and got married and had kids. No less than nine National Monuments were designated in the US, perfect for the centennial year of the National Park Service. Michelle Obama gave several absolutely amazing speeches, that are still important and amazing despite Hillary Clinton’s loss.
I graduated high school. I went to four more states. (I now have only five more to go!) I drove through Columbus, OH at night (because I made a wrong turn on the freeway, but cool nonetheless). I finally went to Hershey Park. I marathoned all eight Harry Potter movies. I started college at my dream school. I sang BYU’s fight song, a lot. I voted. I made friends that I will never forget, nor want to. I became secure in my own religious understanding. I bought a flannel and got a bank account. I have my very own copies of each of my favorite classic books.
Guys, this year was great.
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