One of the big problems with being “woke” is the growing number of causes, action groups, and issues that constantly clamor for attention. There are only so many hours in the day, so much energy, and so many active brain cells to give to any of those worthy activities. But as one of my fellow candidates said during the 2018 campaign cycle, I’m too aware now to be silent, to be inactive, to be secluded…as much as I’d like to be. I’m compelled to speak, and to act.
That compulsion brings its own problems. Plato had it right when Socrates said those still in the cave don’t want to hear from those who have learned to discern the shadows from reality:
“Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.”
It’s like being a reformed smoker or someone on the latest health food kick. As much as we might have been pulled kicking and screaming into change for the better, now that we’re out of the darkness, we can’t help but try to bring others along. In a political sense, that means continuing to push for increased awareness of facts versus “fake news,” of the humanity behind the crisis-du-jour. And it’s a constant, uphill struggle.
In my writing life, after going through the query-submit-requery cycle so many times, finally landing a small press only to lose it after one novel, and struggling to find another…I find it hard not to be discouraging when asked by wannabe writers how to get their book published: Do I share my reality, or do I give them the anybody-can-do-it-here’s-how story?
But is any of that my duty, my business? I’ve never claimed a better-than, superiority over those who have yet to turn from the shadows I’ve finally recognized. Rather, turning to Plato again, and to a wise professor, I’ve learned that exiting one cave likely means we find ourselves in yet another cave, with still more learning and growing to do on the endless path to enlightenment and truth. Same with “thinking outside the box”; there are always more boxes…like a nested Russian doll! All I’ve done – if, in fact, I’ve made it out of “a” cave – is learned how much I really don’t know, and how much my own awareness still needs to grow.
Which means I’m not fully woke, more like in that fuzzy half-asleep stage that descends after we hit the snooze button.
And as much as I feel a duty to speak out, to educate, to act on one of those important causes, first I have to stop hitting snooze and wake up completely myself.
I’ll need more caffeine…
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