Every day since waking up in the hospital I’ve wanted to die, but watching that man sink below the waves, I feel something inside me rise up. A Dragon doesn’t surrender. A Dragon fights fate. This is not some loud, roaring feeling. It feels more like someone blew on an ember and found a slight orange glow. I have to hang on to my life—however ruined and useless. Mama’s voice comes floating to me, reciting one of her favorite sayings, “There is no catastrophe except death; one cannot be poorer than a beggar.” I want—need—to do something braver and finer than dying.
―Lisa See,Shanghai Girls
What is the matter with these people, these people who won’t stop fighting, won’t stop hurting each other long enough to see that a body is a thing of beauty, is a miracle of rivers and oceans and islands and continents contained within itself? That the brain is divided into two hemispheres, each symmetrical, each perfect, each with its own system of waterways. These people of war should be shown an x-ray of an intraparenchymal hemorrhage, of a hemorrhage in an eighteen-year-old girl’s brain, a girl named Ivy. Take a look at that, people of war. See, you should not hurt each other, and this is why. Without you ever even trying, this is what can happen to your body, your beautiful body, and your brain, your beautiful symmetrical brain, and your heart, and your soul.
―Alison McGhee, All Rivers Flow to the Sea
Not enough youths fighting windmills. And the old are fearful, jaded or dead. Do not ask me what to do. I am just as cowardly as you. And do not tell me it is enough to speak the truth; that it is bravery enough. Every mountain leveled to the ground, every forest burned, every man, woman, and child who lost their shanties to arsonist fires were defended to the heavens—with words.