Zen Pencils: Sophie Scholl

“The real damage is done by those millions who want to 'survive.' The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.”Source here.

This hit me hard.

It speaks to why I keep caring, even when it’s hard, even when it hurts. We’re all still going to die some day, whether we keep our heads down and keep to ourselves or not. So when I have the opportunity and the energy to give a damn and try to make the world better, I try to do so.

I understand and empathize with the cynical–I can be pretty cynical myself at times, and I have existential crises about why it all even matters just like anyone else. I also despair that the powerful have too much power for change to be possible. But resigning to that does not keep me any happier or safer than fighting does. I choose to continue to engage with people and things that suck and piss me off because life is only worth the effort to me if I can keep believing that I matter, that I can make a difference, however small, and that small differences MATTER.

It’s important too that I am no Sophie Scholl, and I don’t have to be for my giving-a-damn and engagement to count. We need people who are exceptional, who devote themselves 110% to a cause… but that doesn’t mean that those of us who don’t or can’t should be ashamed and give up trying entirely. None of us is perfect, but we all have to do what we can to live as decent human beings. It’s the only way we can continue to hope and love and trust and maybe even make things better.