An article, Loaded Words, from a writer and activist who has been very influential to me, Derrick Jensen. One of Derrick’s most quoted and most controversial lines: “Every morning when I wake up I ask myself whether I should write, or blow up a dam.” (see Actions Speak Lounder than Words, 1998, and/or Derrick’s book, A Language Older than Words, a book very influential to me, personally)
In a more recent article, Derrick revisits. If you are a writer or activist, you’ll very much appreciate reading the full article, but these lines in and of themselves are important:
“….words can be used as weapons in service of our communities. Far too many of us have forgotten, or never knew, that words should be used as weapons in service of our communities. For far too long, too many critics and teachers have told us that literature should be apolitical (as though this were possible…”
On the other hand…
…words themselves do not topple dictators, they do not stop capitalism, they do not stop oppression, they do not halt species extinction, they do not stop global warming, they do not remove dams. At some point someone actually has to do something. At some point someone needs to physically dismantle the infrastructures that allow capitalism to metastasize, oppression to continue, species extinction and global warming to accelerate, dictators and dams to stand.
That job is up to all of us.
A friend and mentor once asked me, “What are the largest, most pressing problems you can help to solve using the gifts that are unique to you in all the universe?” That question shows precisely where I have succeeded as a writer and human being, and precisely where I have failed…..”