The most effective way to affirm our sense of presence is to repeat a mantra that makes a declaration in the purest form. It is at the heart of what we know to be true. It can’t be refuted.
I am. You are. We are.
In part, this takes me back to the practice of teaching language. For all of the teacher-philosophers out there, while we teach language we continuously ask ourselves why we teach it and what it means to teach it. We ask these questions because it keeps us humble. Ideally, it also ensures that language is a tool of empowerment instead of colonization.
I think this approach can be helpful when applied to other situations, such as censorship. Whether we feel directly censored by others, or whether we feel indirectly censored by association with others, censorship is complicated because it seeks to disintegrate identity and bonds.
I’m reminded of teaching language because it’s refreshing and restorative to return to the basics of grammar in order to realize that we always have ways of saying we are still here: I am. You are. We are.
Relationships can survive periods of censorship. This truth doesn’t make censorship correct, right, or good, but knowing that survival is possible can give us hope. As enduring as words may be, there is much more to who we are beyond them. Words are important, but killing words does not necessarily kill people. We can survive censorship: I am. You are. We are.