People keep asking me, “Why are you doing this?”
For those of you who don’t know me or don’t know what I do, “this” is being a freelance hope warrior. Inspiring people, trying to encourage political change, helping people with their problems and fears, writing material (both non-fiction and fiction) that is designed to inspire and make people think about our place in this world and the content of our heroism.
Though very few have had the courage to say it to my face, I know that many wonder or have even alleged that I have a God complex. A martyr complex, a messiah complex. Some way of dismissing what I do.
I get it. People have been burnt. Trusting someone just because they claim good motives is a good way of getting suckered.
But there’s a deeper problem.
I can admit that I have my own martyr complexes and messiah complexes.
But I’ve always had them, and I didn’t act like this before.
I can point to my hope.
But I’ve always been hopeful. Indeed, in my main novel series, one of the central protagonists draws upon hope and the future as a power source.
There’s a lot of factors that define what I do, have pushed me to this point.
What people fail to understand is how exhausting this work is.
Engaging with people who are hurt takes a toll. Those who dismiss missionary work or activists too quickly demonstrate only that they have not had to fight the demon of burnout.
Putting out work into the ether without immediate understanding of the rewards takes a toll.
Directing positivity into writing takes a toll. It’s part of my own tonglen practice: Taking the good in me and putting it into paper and bits.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, and while I can say that it is the positive reinforcement of wonderful people and the knowledge that I can make a difference that keeps me going, that is very little comfort when I go to bed exhausted.
I can talk on and on about the things I believe. Duties to others, the benefits of compassion, why this beautiful universe we live in matters.
I can even say that, far from being convinced of how special I am, I know exactly how inadequate I or anyone else is for what I would dream to happen.
So I try to condense it to this idea:
I just got tired of feeling helpless at being unable to stop suffering.
Now, if someone doesn’t believe that motivation, maybe it’s not me who has the complex.
Maybe someone who doesn’t understand that feeling of being helpless while loved ones were hurt and confused has the problem.
Maybe someone who doesn’t comprehend that defeating that feeling once and for all, never needing to be controlled by it again, needs to work on their empathy.