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“To speak for someone is to be more than rude, it is to invade.”

And with those words, I sat down and read the entire collection of short stories from my dear friend Mark Gonzales’s new book entitled, “In Times of Terror, Wage Beauty.”

The small vignettes challenged me to share my own thoughts and reflect on the ideas presented within each line, each word, and each breathe uttered from the pages of the book.

“In Times of Terror, Wage Beauty” is more than just a reminder of the power of love, it is a manifesto for all to contribute to the creation of a better world.

To say it more succinctly: that we are architects of our own imagination who have a responsibility to believe in and to work towards a healthier and more peaceful world.

However, what really struck at the core of my essence was when Mark warned us of the importance of facing our worst demons and that “we cannot heal what we will not face.”

And in these eight mighty words, I realized that I could spend my entire life resisting systems that continue to destroy our futures, but that I would never be as effective if I don’t spend the same amount of time working to improve myself.

That I must address the underlying trauma – both internally and externally – if I truly want to transform our world.

And that is the essence of “In Times of Terror, Wage Beauty” – that our collective progress is inherently tied to our individual progress and vice verse.

That what happens to one, happens to us all – and that our wounds are not solely an individual’s “issues,” but rather an indicator of a larger, systemic failure.

“In Times of Terror, Wage Beauty” teaches us simple ways to stop judging ourselves (and others) and instead focus on trusting our own selves and the limitlessness of our dreams.

In short: The book dares us to take the risk to activate and achieve our fullest potential.

“In Times of Terror, Wage Beauty” is the marriage of healing, history and life.

It is a book that you could pick up when you’re feeling down and a book that will help you realize that you are never alone despite what the pundits or bigots may want you to believe.

I love Mark Gonzales because he’s not afraid to be who he is – and in fact, he challenges all of us to embrace and love every ounce of our beauty and our scars.

To not run away from, but run towards all of our unique and connected identities and to accept the absolute truth that we are “always more than what has been done to us.”

To scream when our voices need to be heard and to listen when we need to hear.

Mark’s prose reminds us of the importance of making sure that the voices and stories of the marginalized be at the center of our foreign policy, at the center of our domestic agenda and at the core of our hearts if we truly want to re-imagine a different world.

So be bold, be fierce, and be unapologetically yourself.

Because “You are more than the sum of what came before. [In fact] you are the square root of what will come after.”

Mike de la Rocha is founder of Revolve Impact, a daring social impact agency that combines organizing and the creative arts to further reach and drive communities to action. To find out more about Mike visit www.mikedelarocha.com and follow him on Twitter at @mrmikedelarocha

PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Gonzalez/Book Cover

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