Orion Digest №23 — A Personal Anecdote
What has shaped history more than the power of belief? Everywhere I go throughout my nation, I see the signs, the echoes of one man who walked through the desert and preached his values thousands of years ago, the symbol of his punishment plastered on the very soul of many cultures worldwide. Similarly, the spirit of colonial revolution remains alive in the hearts of the citizens of the U.S., and basic symbols and figures of a long bygone war are nearly mythic in the modern world.
I have not always been interested in the matters of the world at large. As a child, it was all so much bigger than me, and I was concerned with the fictional — cartoons and video games and books, things that were simple. The Internet and its subsequent culture grew around me with age, and soon, the world felt smaller and smaller. I met and talked to people from faraway lands, found that my experience was but a drop in the vast ocean of humanity — only a small part, yet not altogether different from the rest. There are things that we share so fundamentally human, as wide as the divides between us may seem.
But as I grew older and my world grew smaller, the problems that only adults talked about became more and more evident. My friends weren’t concerned with gathering sticks and playing tag; they started talking more and more about realistic, terrifying problems. Elections caused them to feel dread, news stories about other nations incited passion within them, and pollution became less of a thing warned against on television and more of a very real threat. Admittedly, I found these things at first strange and confusing — this wasn’t the world I knew, and they didn’t seem to affect me in the slightest. It was upsetting to think about the world as a scary and flawed place when I could easily continue to escape into fiction.
But time proves the greatest bringer of sobriety, and this nonchalant, carefree attitude faded over time. What was annoyance at a constant complaint among my friends became an acceptance and understanding, and I witnessed the things they warned against become very real, very observable. To be more specific, the U.S. election of 2016 was the first time in my life that politics seemed to matter, that the constant debate and deliberation meant something, and impacted so many people. I witnessed half of the people in my life cheering on the election of Trump with thunderous applause; and the other half overtaken with fear at what might happen next, and with more of an awareness, I saw that these events led to action.
Since 2016, the world has obviously changed in many ways, often for the worse, and as each wave of disasters hit, I started to take in a bit more, to go deeper into this world I had ignored for so long. It had always been easy and convenient to ignore politics and flaws — to face them head on would be to realize how close we really are to the edge, all the advantages I enjoy without appreciation, and how my life has been built on the backs of so many less fortunate throughout history. However, by the time I came of age, ignorance had no longer become the easy option.
I had progressed past ignorance of politics, and had come to the conclusion that the world was flawed, that I had privilege because of what I looked like, who I was, and the environment I grew up in, and that there was really nothing I could do in the face of all that. I could understand and talk about these issues, I could participate whenever given the chance, but the world was really ruled by business owners, politicians, royalty, powerful factions far beyond the scope of my life, and all I could do was accept this and hope the odds shook out in the world’s favor. It was all I could do at that point to try and reckon with my place in the world, and how I could sleep at night knowing full well the hell others went through every day.
Years went by, the world worsened. Hurricanes and fires rocked my nation, innocent people were gunned down whether because of improper distribution of firearms or the irresponsibility of law enforcement, and constant war continued to plague innocent civilians, who fled their homes only to be caged and hated elsewhere. 4 years after the initial election, a virus from a lab spread across the globe, shutting down much of society for what could be 2 years. The idea of crossing our fingers and hoping things would get better hardly did, as the rich got richer and superpowers grew more embittered. The apocalypse edges closer, and much of our effort is spent persecuting celebrities over old quotes; a meaningless crusade for the illusion of change.
As I lay purposeless within the many months of quarantine, I began to ponder the rest of my life. Because I feared for the longest time ever making my more progressive opinions known to a largely conservative family, I had never imagined doing or saying anything about the state of the world outside of hushed circles of friends, in private messages, in dark rooms. But with all the time in the world to reflect, I began to ask myself what indeed I had planned to do with my life. You really only get one go-around on Earth, one life to live, before your time is up, and the chance to do anything is lost forever. As far as I knew, there was nothing before and nothing after, and anything I did not do voluntarily would be a chance wasted in life.
My thoughts drifted to grand things, to the loftiest of ambitions. To change the world, to truly leave an impact was something I thought above me, something I could never do. But what use was thinking I couldn’t do something? As difficult as it was to do, I had never tried it before, and I didn’t know for sure that I couldn’t do it. And if I never tried, then I would have gone through life simply telling myself I had limits without ever knowing. All these things I never ventured to attempt were simply things I had convinced myself I was incapable of. But what if I took a chance in life? What if I stopped fearing the unknown, and left escapist fantasy and complacency behind?
COVID-19 brought me to the realization that if I told myself that because of who I was, and because the world was so large and ruled by people so powerful, I would never be able to bring about change in the world, and that the more people like me believed in this idea, the more set in stone the current order would be. The highest heights are only achievable because we have been told that they are nigh-unreachable; even if you are incapable of getting there, the effort itself is laudable, and on the chance you do succeed, you’ve made your mark.
The world, I realized, was getting worse, and that for all the fortune I received in life, I owed it to the world to try and save it. If I stopped believing that changing the world was audacious, and focused simply on trying to change it, maybe I could be successful. I started writing, seeking out others who had similar ideas, trying to formulate a solid set of ideas about how the world could be saved, how we can move forward from here. And that led me to the most important part — as far as I can possibly go, as much as I can possibly do to help the world, I cannot do it alone. And so, I sought to find others, to create something greater than myself, bigger than me.
As I said in the beginning, our world has been dramatically influenced before by belief, and not just in Christianity. Major world religions — Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism; nationalistic identity and pride — it’s driven people in the billions to wage wars, to find love, to travel great journeys, and to devote their lives to higher callings. Belief is a powerful thing, because it’s what shakes people out of a groove and into action. Regardless of what people think of me, regardless of whether or not I succeed, and if what I do builds anything that lasts, regardless of who I am and where I come from, I believe that the world is malleable, that I can at least set a stone rolling down the path that may one day loose a boulder that knocks it all into place.
Orion is the culmination of what I hope and believe in. An organization of those with the will to shape history, to move us off the course we’re headed on, by reminding the people of the world that the power is in their hands. I labored for far too long under the delusion that the workings of politics were something I could never reach, that I was powerless, that I was just one person. But every person is an integral part of this world, and when we realize what we can do and how we can go about doing it, the goals that seemed unachievable move within reach.
I know that this essay was a departure from my usual style of writing, but I wanted to touch on what motivated me to found Orion, and what motivates me to aim higher in everything I do. I firmly believe that either I, or the things I leave behind, can make a difference, instead of allowing my fear to make me an accessory to a destructive pattern. And if you are reading this, and you have a desire to make a change for the better, the first step is believing.
- DKTC FL