I passed a student in the hallway today who had told me in class that she didn’t understand the point of protesting. Specifically, she didn’t understand why a person would light himself on fire to protest napalm.
And for the longest time (up until today), I was kind of upset. A little annoyed. A little sad.
As I passed her, I realized why. I thought that if I was around to see her graduate high school that would be my wish to her: I hope that one day you care enough about something to light yourself on fire.
This comes on the heels of a week where I was told that sometimes I will have to make sacrifices for my work.
I have never been so offended in my life. Obviously, this came from someone who does not know me or what I have been doing since I graduated from college. But either way, it is still a very inappropriate comment.
I hardly lit myself on fire.
But I did give the best of what I had. I gave energy when I knew I would have the most of it–my early twenties. I gave my education and intelligence when both were freshest–right after college and during graduate school. And I gave my devotion before I could become completely jaded.
Worst of all, I gave as I was taught to give. From the best of what I have. Not from the leftovers.
No, I never lit myself on fire. But I definitely hurt myself. I definitely sacrificed. And at the end of the day, I am quite pleased with what I have done. I am happy with the legacy I think I have created.
But mostly, I’m proud of myself for knowing what was important to me—what my “issue” in this world is—and for giving until I could quite literally give no more.