Words can start a revolution, change the course of a life, and bring mass attention to social injustice.
Utilizing one of civilization’s strongest tools is 100 Thousand Poets for Change, an annual event on September 28, which takes place essentially everywhere. Despite the name, it is an all-inclusive event, with both poets and non-poets coming together to bring awareness to current political and social issues. All the while promoting the need for cultural change, including the move to a more sustainable future. This is achieved through organized gatherings scattered throughout multiple countries across the globe. Events are full of planned readings as well as spontaneous bursts of creative expression, which encourages the congregation of locals for the purpose of cultural enrichment.
Organizers may opt for more free-form events, which can take place in any orifice of a city as allowed by the law. On this day, you may find yourself in the midst of a jam session whilst riding the subway train, or play witness to a powerful poem performed on the ascending steps of a monument.
100 Thousand Poets for Change began in Sonoma County, California. The first world-wide event took place in 2011 and has since been recognized as the largest poetry reading in history.
One may wonder how social change on a larger scale can spawn from increased support of the arts. The crucial effects are not only of the words themselves, but the participation of the audience. In this instance, it is to engage the community in various forms of storytelling, one of the few things, sans chaos, which brings people together. This has the potential to furthermore strengthen local cores within towns and cities, through interactions with neighbors and the support of small businesses and local government, particularly progressive parties whose policies are not influenced by ties to big business.
Still, it is not only the members of your local community that you connect with on September 28, but the near and distant presence of those around the world who share the same passion for change.
Remember, too, in an event in which participants so openly express their opinions, it remains an act of bravery to publicly convey your message in countries where citizens are still not allowed to vocalize their opposition of those who govern them. Such was the case when, in Bahrain young poet, Ayat Al-Gormezi, was sentenced to one year imprisonment. His crime was reading a pro-democracy poem during a peaceful demonstration in 2011.
This predicament is unfortunate, but it is not shocking. If words had no power, governing bodies would have no need to seek refuge in censorship. Whether or not we are fazed by an event should not determine an unwillingness to react. One word can instigate outrage or even violence; it can also be used to empower and enlighten. Use your own wisely, and by all means to evade the petty corruption of passivity.
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