Hopeful Burning: Inspired by Jesmyn Ward’s Quote “I burn, and I hope.”

Ink on paper

Day 362 and Jesmyn Ward Image © Nerissa Ward

Just over one year ago “The Fire This Time”, a collection of essays and poems edited by author Jesmyn Ward, lit a fire within me. A fire kindled with just five words,

“I burn, and I hope.”

Just over one year later, the fire still burns bright. 

I Burn and I Hope Speech: Spoken at the 2018 Womens March in Traverse City
Nadia Daniels-Moehle

My activism began when I was little, 
back then at marches I was overwhelmed, 
I could only see knees and butts. 

Then my parents lifted me onto their shoulders,
so I could see. 

I’m not overwhelmed any more:
Now I am tall enough to see all of your faces while standing on my own feet,
tall enough to see the whole crowd, and
strong enough to lift someone else onto my shoulders. 

And now I know what activism means to me:          justice, 
I know what democracy means to me:      voting, 
and I know that we have to choose to participate on our own.

I’m choosing to use my voice today.

And I want to speak for everyone who’s voting rights are suppressed,  
for everyone who’s voice is feared, 
for everyone who’s time is not valued, 
for everyone who’s personhood is questioned.

I want them to know that their voice is the foundation of America, 
their voice is democracy,  
and we will work so that their voice is heard.

Democracy means using our voices; 
but sometimes we tire, 
sometimes we consider giving up 
and sometimes we give in to fear. 

When that happens we must have hope. 

The work ahead of us is hard,
it will take all our lives 
and at no point will we be able to sit back and say “oh look we are done. 
Life     and democracy     don’t work that way. 

This seems scary because I am,
in a sense, just a kid. 

But kids are the future, 
and my generation now has a way to use our voice:       our vote. 
We have the power of the poles to participate in democracy. 
And by participating we can preserve democracy.  

To move forward
we need to shake off the infighting that causes us to divide. 
To move forward we need to believe in solidarity. 
And to move forward we need to vote.

While the pendulum of history seems to have swung us back, 
we have to remember that these challenges make us stronger,
these challenges are making us come together. 

For now I’ll leave you
with a quote from the amazing author Jesmyn Ward,
who responded to James Baldwin’s essay The Fire Next Time, 
with a recent book, The Fire This Time. 
In it she writes, “I burn, and I hope.”

So when commitment seems to vast, 
when using your voice seems futile,
when you grow scared for the future,
say to yourself “I burn, and I hope.”

“I burn, and I hope.”

“Inspired by” series

Check out the accompanying posts, day 231day 293, day 346.

362 days done, 3 to go.