08.14.12 Truth & Wisdom
Can Words Make Change?
BY Ruby Veridiano
I have always been a writer. Words have always lent me comfort and courage, and finding my voice changed saved my life. While a writer’s job description is often about storytelling and the act of making language beautiful, its important to recognize that writers, if they choose to accept it, have other crucial missions: to inspire, ignite and empower others to discover the power of their words and the potency of their voice.
Words are world-changing. I have been a firsthand witness at the power of words to transform an ordinary person into an extraordinary visionary, allowing one to recognize that they too, have the agency to make a difference. When we find our voice, we undergo a personal revolution that brings us the audacity to demand a better world and a better self to contribute to it.
As a writer, I have lent my passions to youth in classrooms across the country, using the art of poetry and spoken word to explore giant social issues in a way that is accessible and personal to those that may believe that social issues don’t affect them. I have watched young people recognize their own stories unfolding through the stories of leaders that came before them, finding courage through the battles that had once been fought by writers like Langston Hughes and Sylvia Plath; the former speaking for equality, and the latter fighting to find and love herself. Like many other iconic writers, Langston Hughes and Sylvia Plath teach young people to be brave enough to be vulnerable, because it is through our vulnerability that we find the source of our power as human beings with the astounding capacity to create change.
There is nothing more beautiful than to unleash the potential of another person through your time and service. As you change someone’s life, they change you. Your ability to better someone inevitably betters you. The students I have worked with through writing workshops have taught me more than they know, showing me that even through struggle and adversity, this world is beautiful. Just like flowers that rise from concrete, there is always, always, the prevailing power of hope and the possibility of breakthrough.
My former students are proof that words educate, words transform and most of all, words heal. As one of my students once wrote: “I speak for my family and my ancestors. I speak for people who don’t have a voice, those who aren’t aware of their voice and those who haven’t yet found their voice.” Her name is Kayan and she is thirteen years old.
Whether or not you are a writer, I urge you to explore the ways in which you can create impact in your community. Mentorship is one of the most effective ways to make a difference. There are so many people out there who not only need school or career guidance, but a source of inspiration to push on for their dreams. Some dreams are so big they seem impossible. So many people just want a reminder that anything is within reach. Give and invest your time to give hope to someone else and to guide their path. You would be surprised at how much it will guide your own.