Writing to Inspire the World
Cindy Liu, Division 2, 10th grade

On June 4, 1984, a man stepped in front of a line of tanks bearing down upon him and changed the world. For a tense moment, time stopped for the lone figure who crossed a street with grocery bags in hand and stared silently at the tanks, refusing to allow them to pass. He wasn’t a soldier, he didn’t cure cancer, nor was he a multimillionaire. In one of the most iconic pictures of the 20th century, the “Tank Man” was an ordinary citizen who stood up in the face of a seemingly unstoppable adversary and inspired thousands across the globe.

I remember the shiver that raced down my arms when I saw the picture for the first time in class. In the overhead document screen, the picture was faded and fuzzy around the edges, but the raw emotion was clear; it spoke of courage and the unyielding side of humanity. Within it, I saw not the power of one individual, but the power of inspiration. I believe we all have a purpose in our lives— to be inspired and in turn, inspire others. In a world where people are too often afraid to be different from the crowd, it is all too easy to sink into the safety of uniformity. To truly inspire others means that I have to be different; I have to be willing to take action, and pursue what I love doing. For me, that means following my passion for writing.

My passion for writing has been developing for as long as I can remember. What started out as narrating make believe worlds in my mind soon blossomed into short stories and essays about my experiences. In third grade, I had my first experience of impacting others with my writing.

Every year at my elementary school, there was an acting troupe that would travel to our school to act out various stories written by the students. They were the Imagination Machine, a group of fun loving people whose humorous renditions of our stories were always eagerly anticipated by the students. After years of watching my classmates’ stories being acted out, mine — a short story about the adventures of a curious hamster— was finally picked.

I remember the laughter that rippled across the room, and the smiles on my classmates’ faces as my story was performed. A warmness settled into my heart, and it was the most incredible feeling to have witnessed a genuine reaction to my writing. Afterwards, I remember how my teachers and classmates approached me, smiling and telling me about how my story had made them laugh. This experience, compared to other groundbreaking changes that happened in the world, doesn’t seem like much. I have not dramatically changed someone’s life, yet I managed to make someone happy, and that was enough. If only for a moment, I was able to make the world around me shine a shade brighter and make it a little better. I soon realized that to make my impact on the world, I cannot do so single handedly; it is through touching the lives of others around me that I can make the world a better place.

As a writer, I know the strength of words and the effect it has for those who listen. Words can pull someone out of a spiral of ugly thoughts. They can spark a flame inside your heart that refuses to be put out, and words can push you to overcome limits you never knew you were stuck behind. I will continue with my writing in hopes of inspiring more people, for the emotional impact of writing makes it the most powerful way of inspiration.

Popular misconception has it that stories have no power, that the label fiction means that it cannot impact the world. This is untrue. Through my experience in the world of words, I found that stories are reflections of real life; they dare to speak of the raw aspects of life we often pretend don’t exist as we wade through our days. Stories can shine a spotlight on what we can’t even admit to ourselves at 1 o’clock in the morning — that we are lonely, or that we are afraid. On the other hand, it also illuminates otherworldly ideas— the perspective that sees a dandelion as a wish instead of a weed, and the concept of slipping into another universe.

I know the long-lasting power of words, for while I have impacted others with my writing, I have also seen the effect of other people’s words. A few years ago, while surfing the Internet, I stumbled upon a poetry blog. At first glance, the simple site didn’t seem like much, but it was the poet’s words that caught my attention.

“There is freedom waiting for you/ on the breezes of the sky/ and you ask ‘what if I fall?’/ Oh but my darling/ what if you fly?”

Her poem managed to capture the elusive essence of hope and beauty within its five lines. I sat there utterly bewildered by the emotions tingling through my veins, tasting the words again and again as they slipped over my tongue. I was not the only one impacted by her work. All over her site, I saw comments from people all over the world who were inspired to write, were emotionally touched, and used her writing to carry them through dark times.

For now, I am only on my first steps to change the world for the better. Like the Tank Man, I will take action and make a difference. Even though I may not stand in front of a line of tanks, I will take a stand; I will reach out and inspire with my words, one person at a time. With writing, I will make the world a better place.
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