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What’s your power word?

| Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Growing up, we are repeatedly told we can be anything we want to be. We’re told to dream big — the world is ours. Little kids are encouraged to aspire to be astronauts, princesses, the next president.

But at some point, in between childhood and emerging adulthood, we are hit with a spheroid of misery, skepticism, distrust, agony, fear and adversity. It’s a spheroid because it’s not perfect enough to be a ball and it’s not perfect because that spheroid is life. It is the harsh reality in which we live, the society that suffers in silence but whose agony echoes in the eyes of those who have put on a façade for the incoming generation, the eyes of which still express hope.

So what do we do when we have lost that innocence, our last glimpse of hope? Are we supposed to tell those who still believe in humanity and civilization that life is not a shade of perfect pink? Should we explain how instead it is a mucky gray? Or should we let them confront that veracity on their own? Is it our responsibility as knowers of the truth to inform our fellow citizens of what is to come?

No. The answer is no. Who are we to destroy the optimistic state of mind which every one of us attempts to hold on to for as long as we can? We do not destroy this trust which others have instilled in our society, but instead help build it. We are obliged to make our world a better place for those who come after us. We do this with power.

Today, power is seen as something that an individual either possesses or doesn’t. It is seen as something that leads to genocides, dictatorships and corruption. I refuse to believe power is strictly a bad thing. The reality is that we all have power in different forms. Knowledge is power, our voices are power, our beliefs, zeal, passions, connections, resources and backgrounds are all power. If we change our mindset of power as only coming from money, then we can create a better place.

Cosmopolitan — it all comes down to cosmopolitanism. The reason why our world is suffering now is because we do not understand each other. This disparity leaves us vulnerable for abusers of power to pit us against each other. Because they understand how power works, they use it against us who still don’t, so we never come to learn our capacity — individually and as humanity. When we learn to understand and appreciate every one of our brothers and sisters in their specificity, then we weaken the hold which demagogues have on us.

So I encourage you to do two things:

  1. Find your power word. We all have a word/phrase/saying that gives us strength. It is the motto with which we live. It could even be the same saying which inspired us as children to dream of becoming the next Albert Einstein. Whatever it is, find it and hold on to it.
  2. Seek and share understanding. Be the person who is open to learning about different cultures, traditions, religions, political beliefs and most importantly the struggles with which every one of us suffers. And on the other hand, also be the person who is willing to share.  How can we expect others to understand us if we do not help them to do just that?

“Lucha,” a Spanish word meaning “Fight,” that is my power word. Fight for what you’ve learned, for what you hope. Fight for what you believe and fight for your brothers and sisters, especially when they haven’t found their power just yet. Stand up for those who don’t have the strength or hope to do so. I plead you to be their voice. Lucha for our fellow DACA and TPS holders, undocumented neighbors, for sexual assault survivors, people with mental and physical abilities, for our friends who the system wrongly continues to harm. Fight for whoever and whatever your heart compels you to, so long as you fight. Because if you don’t, then who will?

Odalis Gonzalez is a freshman. She can be reached at [email protected]

Show Some Skin is a student-run initiative committed to giving voice to unspoken narratives about identity and difference. Using the art of storytelling as a catalyst for positive social change across campus, we seek to make Notre Dame a more open and welcoming place for all. If you are interested in breaking the silence and getting involved with Show Some Skin, email [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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