This morning, someone sent me a message that profoundly moved me. Before reading this serendipitous comment, I was feeling a bit deflated. It is easy to occasionally feel discouraged and wonder if it is even worth it. It seems that the world is going to the dogs no matter how many warn of the dangers ahead. For every hundred preaching love and togetherness, there are a hundred thousand injecting malice and separable grievances. It was during this moment of contemplation and thinking “is this even worth it” that a random response from a follower gave me the encouragement to keep pushing.
“Being so honest and open about your thoughts and experience helps make us feel life is more worthwhile than it otherwise might seem!” This one sentence outweighed the screeds that are thrown my way by fanatics who are so wedded to our politics that they see anyone who speaks against their ideology as some adversary to incinerate. Out of all the places, it was a Tweet that stiffened my spine this morning; that quote came from @Stedsimple, who goes by the name of “Will We Ever Learn”. The reason Stedsimple mentioned me in his Tweet was to thank me for having the courage to discuss my bout with homelessness and how I was able to climb out of that dark hole (see my interview with Lee Camp below).
Stedsimple told me that he too once went through the turbulence of homelessness and that he was able to identify with my struggle because he too went through that harrowing experience. He ended it all by saying “amesegenalo”, which means thank you in Amharic. These types of connections and the ability to inspire others is the reason I write and why I started the Ghion Journal. I get distracted at times from this core mission as I let politics and conflicts get in the way of my purpose. It is so easy to fall for the catnip and to gaze into the navel of animus, but if we want to make a change in this world, the only way is through kindness. We all struggle with life; we all get shrouded in darkness. In these moments, a flicker of light given to us by a friend or a stranger can be enough to rekindle hope in our hearts for a better tomorrow.
I hope I don’t sound preachy when I say this or worse yet pious. If I disavow fighting fire with fire and letting emotions get the best of us, it’s only because I traveled that path of futility. Before I started the Ghion Journal last December, I had another website called Brown Condor that I initially started to highlight the history and beauty of my native land Ethiopia. What started in light ended up crumbling into embers and ashes because I let the antagonism of others turn me away from love and deliver me into the arms of antipathy. I used to lambaste anyone who dared to speak against me; I thought it just for me to incinerate trolls and to punch bullies in the nose with the most fiery language.
I thought I was winning and defeating trolls; all along I was shadowboxing myself and letting the animus of others have veto power over my happiness. The only thing that fighting fire with fire accomplishes is to actualize two burn victims. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that”. Sadly, I did not have the wisdom nor the understanding of King to realize his sagacity. For the better part of eight years, I sauntered between hope and hopelessness as I fed love to my readers one minute only to turn around and unleash hell to my haters. I let a few loud louts divert me from the gift that I had to share my light with others—my haters won and I defeated myself.
Two years of hardship taught me that those louts were not louts at all—they were just broken souls. I know now that people who hurt find it easier to lash out instead of healing themselves. This is what we all do; the pains we carry from the past pall shadows over us and confine us in the four walls of fear, anger, remorse, and hopelessness. It’s not until we walk our road to Damascus that we finally learn to look within instead of trying to find love, validation or meaning from without. Some of us are lucky to learn this lesson and heal from it; others never learn and forever dwell in the throes of unhappiness and loathing towards self and others.
Yet even those who learn the lessons are haunted by the past; pain is not something we heal from totally—we just learn to accept it and grow from it. As much progress as I have made, I still revert occasionally to shellacking others with my words. The ego is like Lazarus; try as you might to kill it, the ego finds ways to resurrect itself when we least expect it. But I have today what I did not have before, I gained enough wisdom through crucibles to know the perils associated with an unchecked ego. It is this lesson that I turn to daily; a reflection that makes me appreciate messages of kindness and compassion like the one I received from Stedsimple this morning.
If we have a chance to bend the arc of history towards justice, our only hope is through love and unity. We have tried all other options; revolutions of bullets and bloodshed revert right back to the injustices that gave birth to them. The way forward is oneness and for the people to understand our power in numbers instead of bowing before the powers of the establishment. This is the reason I started the Ghion Journal and why I stand with the people astride the powerful (read Empower Us). I believe that we, the people irrespective of identity or ideology, can do something truly audacious and repel injustice through coexistence. None is greater than the other; all of us are greater when we love and work with one another. If enough people realize this, those who oppress humanity will fall before us.
A once political hero once talked of the audacity of hope and made me believe in the possibility of unity. Once bitterly disappointed, I emerged from the other side of resentment determined to be the change that I want to see for this world. No more waiting for the rich and powerful to redeem us—there is no Moses coming for us. It is up to us as a people to rise up and empower ourselves or else forever be the stepping stones of the 1%. The change will never come from the top; politics in this way is nothing but a form of self-medication. The change will come from us, the people, or it will never come at all. Put aside animosity and stop shooting sideways at fellow victims; unite as one or suffer forever fractured. Let our light connect with the light of others and our collective luminescence can drive out the darkness of this world. #AuthenticAudacity100
“Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” ~ Robert Kennedy
If you appreciate the message in this write up and you too would rather be the light instead of turning to darkness, share this article on social media using
Check out my interview on Lee Camp’s show Redacted VIP where I talk about my journey and the ways we as a people are pitted against each other.
Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss how unity can overcome tyranny and cite past victories in the face of oppression citing Ethiopia, Haiti and America as examples.
Please listen closely to the words spoken by Robert F. Kennedy, one of the most profound speeches I’ve ever listened to in my life. You will realize why they killed him, the powerful always eliminate those who speak of unity and love.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.