As the 2010s draws to a close, many of us reflect on the joys, triumphs and tragedies of one of the most exciting and turbulent decades. From politics and from our own personal reflections I can assure you, this will indeed go down in history. Who we are and what we do shall also be captivated someday by the hands of the tapestry of time.
Time is the neverending story about humanity. It captivates the greatest accomplishments and struggles of history. There is a principle that has stuck with me from my youth and I shall proudly proclaim it still. "Liberty" a word so simple yet so powerful has been the connecting theme of my life story. "Rights" as well, for all of us are entitled to certain unalienable rights. Wherever I go in life and wherever this next decade takes us, this I affirm to you- the depths of my heart shall forever hold true to our rights and my mouth shall always speak for those who have none.
I shall begin this reflection in the year 2010- a year of great political consequences. In my homecountry of the United States, great political forces rocked the very foundations of the country. A well-meaning and passionate president shook his head in despair on how to quill the tensions of the angry crowd outside. Teenagers in the freshness of their youth went door to door and took to the streets to demand action to the many crises we faced. What indeed were these crises? and alas! what we thought were the solutions then landed up unleashing the forces of polarization!
Alas my dear gentle reader, one must understand that in the midst of drama such as this- this is when ideas take root. To understand my present desire to learn all I can about liberty and freedom, these years proved to be like the backstory of a grand novel.
In the years that followed 2010-2013ish, I delved into the works of Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu and Voltaire. These works held dear to my heart the principles that eventually formed my very own political worldview. People searched for solutions in many places- socialism, libertarianism, religious philosophies but I found mine in the Enlightenment philosophies of old. These timeless truths about checks and balances, consent of the governed and the social government illuminated my path that I am on today. Although I have read and learned from many philosophers throughout my life these describe my political worldview and contribute to my best defenses of human rights.
No post reflecting on the 2010s would be complete without mention of Generation Joshua. This organization was an educational organization teaching teenagers about civics. It was here I learned to debate with people from many different perspectives, and it was here that brilliant minds taught me how to see the full picture of politics. I participated in their mock government simulations and campaigning trips. It was with a few friends from this group that we stood on the marble Capitol steps and said together "I promise before you, before my honor and before the world I will not be silent and I will speak my mind always for the liberty of the people"
Alas! Now on to my college years. Among the fondest memories of the 2010s was my college life (2012-2016) I had great professors, many of which came from different perspectives than my own. They recommended great books that we engaged in. I delved even deeper into the knowledge I already had and made many wonderful friends. My life was enriched by people and scholars from around the world. Memories such as going to the orchestra, going to the theater and coffeeshops defined my free time!
Where else shall I begin on this decade? My time in France (as well as other parts of Europe) changed my life forever. My first trip abroad was through Liberty University and we went to 5 countries (the UK, France, Switzerland, Liectenstein and Germany) These were places I read about in books as a child. It was monumental seeing them and these cultures spring to life before my eyes. The following year (2016) I lived in Paris for an internship.
Living in France was one of the most important milestones of my life. France was a nation that always captivated my heart since I was a young child reading Story of the World and enjoying the stories about the French Revolution and Napoleon. Living in Paris and seeing the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and Eiffel Tower up close felt surreal. After a month, it was an adventure trying to adjust to the not-so-glamorous things about Paris such as the public transportation and occasional language barrier problems. However, with perseverance and an amazing French host I was able to improve my accent in French and now speak French at an advanced level and am able to read my favorite books in French. Living abroad is not always easy, but it taught me many lessons about life and humanity. I would love to return to France someday to live for a longer period of time! I learned much from my French and American friends who were living in France, we discussed the important issues of life at coffeeshops and had fun adventures in the Louvre and Versailles. This experience was like a dream from my childhood unfolding into reality before my eyes! I learned although living abroad is not always as perfect as it seems, there is so much to learn and sometimes the best lessons come when you least expect it. My heart kindled with stories of French republicans in the June Rebellion defending their beliefs against a tyrannical king, as well as the stories of brave French Resistance fighters.
I also noticed living in France, I developed more of a global perspective. Throughout my life I have been fascinated by other cultures; and even within a country many different cultures exist. There are also so many truths that unite us as humanity. While people love to focus on differences such as "in northern France they do this, in southern France they do that" but in truth we are all humans and individuals. We need to acknowledge cultural differences, but we also need to acknowledge individuality. Yes my dear reader, it is true- I am an American who hates ice in water. There are principles that unite the world that should never be ignored and once we learn who we are as individuals we can do a better job defending them. We all have a desire for liberty and life. Every one of us around the world has unalienable rights that should never be taken away by anybody.
I had two internships in Washington, DC afterwards- at the Library of Congress and on Capitol Hill. Both of these buildings hold much significance and grandeur within their walls. The labyrinth of tunnels below connected so many people and adventures. Seeing the action up close gave me a human perspective on all of the dilemmas we face today.
Oh I could go on and write forever about my love of Paris, the adventures in the Capitol and storehouses of knowledge in the Library of Congress. However, to keep this post reasonable to you my dear reader I shall close here. The strongest principle I took from this decade is this: Always stand up for your beliefs, but also be willing to listen to the the voices of others. May you blend together the perfect principles of liberty, equality and solidarity into your daily life as we create a world with liberty for all.
What was your strongest principle learned in this decade?
My dear reader, as I commence this reflection I would be honored to extend to you my wishes for a magnificent New Decade! May your adventures be pursued with a sincere quest for knowledge, and may your mind always be sharp and ready to speak for truth.