How to End Up on the Right Side of History

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There are two ways to end up on the right side of history.

The first is simple. Be rich, powerful, and preferably in charge. You can write your own story this way. It helps to be of the right religion, correct color, and preferred gender. If you are none of those, see if you could still become rich or powerful anyway. Should you be unable to, please refer to the second method. If you do choose the first path, or rather, if the first path chooses you, you will be successful. At first, anyway. It is probable that you will end up on the right side of history, with your version written in stone.

If you choose the second option, look behind you. Survey the general course of history. You will start to notice humanity has been moving in a certain direction – forward. On a very slow and unsteady road, we have moved away from fear, away from slavery and oppression, away from injustice. Start walking down this path.

After you have walked for a little bit, you will realize you do not know where to head next. The way forward is murky and you are not sure which way to go. Here, you must stop. Listen to those walking beside you. When someone tells you they are hurting, believe them. Do not argue that it is not your fault, or assume it would be too great an inconvenience for you to stop and help. Walk with them for a while.

Eventually, you will need to take a break. Look at where you are. It is almost guaranteed that you will need to turn around. Do not be shocked at this, it was improbable that you would have happened to start out on the right path and then made only the correct choices along the way. Be wrong. It is unlikely you will ever be right if you have not ever been wrong. Admit that you were wrong, if not to others, then at least to yourself. Then keep walking forward.

If you look beside you, you will notice a stream has started to form. It is not a raging river, but a slow trickle. It is gaining momentum, but perhaps not moving as quickly as you would like. Head in the direction of that river.

At this point, you, and the river, will be stopped. They will build stone walls to keep you from moving forward; they will dam you, and they will damn you. Here, you will feel as if you are waiting, waiting without even a purpose. You will feel trapped, helpless. But you have not actually been stopped.

Water breaks through stone. Whether it is small drops slowly eroding the rock away, or a gigantic river bursting through a dam, water will always eventually win. It will arrive, ready to give life. Ready to quench the longing of the thirsty, ready to ease the ache of a dry land.

At this point, it is likely you will no longer care where you are standing. You may realize it has never been about you. Yes, you may be happy that you can tell your grandchildren you were standing here when it happened. But it is not about that. It is about watching the people drink. And as you watch them, you will start to realize – you have been thirsty this whole time, too.

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