Tonight, I was torn between topics for writing. On the one hand, I wanted to write about the tremendous experience of the March4Women held in London over the weekend (5/3), of which I relished every moment, but I also wanted to write about the beautiful words of Jonathan Safran Foer in his outstanding debut novel Everything Is Illuminated, which I read again, and not for the last time, yesterday.
I decided that I would write about both, because something can be said about solidarity in love and beauty, of living in a world which falls short of what we hope for, but in which we fight for what we believe in.
In Everything Is Illuminated, JSF as I will proceed to call him, talks about a young woman named Brod, who is apparently born from the river by the shtetl (village) of his own grandfather’s birth, Trachimbrod in Ukraine. He describes Brod as a young woman of extreme potential, of unprecedented intellect and beauty, and a young woman who possesses the great sadness which allows her to persevere in the way she does. In many ways, the following quote sums up her character perfectly, and I have often returned to it.
“She loved herself in love, she loved loving love, as love loves loving, and was able, in that way, to reconcile herself with a world that fell so short of what she would have hoped for. It was not the world that was the great and saving lie, but her willingness to make it beautiful and fair, to live a once-removed life, in a world once-removed from the one in which everyone else seemed to exist.”
Throughout the novel, we learn that Brod perseveres no matter what. She fights against the injustices that are dealt to her, to her husband, and JSF ultimately sheds light on the contrast of her actions and those of another, who betrayed his best friend and handed him to the Nazis and a burning synagogue in which he, along with the souls of so many others across Eastern Europe, would burn.
Reading those words yesterday, with the tears unashamedly embroidering my face with the invisible paint which etches itself into one’s soul when one reads such beauty, I did not expect that I would feel as Brod does in Everything Is Illuminated when walking across Tower Bridge in weather that would frequent both torrential rain and cold sunshine. But I did, and it was unprecedented. Chanting, laughing, smiling with my friends and with my fellow human beings as we walked through the streets of London, holding our statements and our heads high, I felt that perseverance, that drive to fight against the “once-removed” world we live in. In order to succeed, to achieve, we must fight for what we believe in. We must appreciate every human being for who they are, for what they stand for, and we must work within ourselves and without in order to make the world that which we hope for.
We are human beings, and we deserve truth, equality, happiness and humanity. We deserve enough. And I’m proud to continue to fight for that everyday, and to bring about continued illumination. Are you?