Thursday, June 10, 2010

Guest of Honor Speech

This is the ending of Mary Anne Mohanraj's guest of honor speech at Wiscon this year:
The world is in terrible danger. You have been chosen, you are needed, you are each and every one of you the only one who can save it, if you will just be brave enough. And it will be hard. But heroism isn't about not being afraid. It is about being afraid, and doing the work anyway. Fighting for what you know is right. And I promise you this -- for every time you stand up for the cause you believe in, every time you break down one of the walls of fear to speak out, you will emerge stronger and braver on the other side.

I'm a literature professor now, and a fiction writer. As I grew up, I never stopped loving science fiction and fantasy; I never stopped loving stories, in part because good stories reveal character, and character reveals the fundamental truths of the human heart. It takes clear sight and courage to look at what is revealed inside us, dark and bright, and show that openly to the world. One of my favorite writers, Dorothy Allison, said that the best writing comes when we are terrified, and we write the truth anyway. So I am asking you to look clearly at the world around you, its beauty and its terrible pain and injustice. I'm asking you to take up that flaming sword, because it is here; I am standing on your doorstep, and I am calling you. You can be brave enough, you can be a hero.

The best of it is that if you lead the way, others will follow.

Deep in our hearts, I believe we all want to be heroes.


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