“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.” — Edith Wharton
“To know even one life has breathed easier because
you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
These are two quotes I have identified with since I can remember: Emerson representing the reason with which I have tried to live my life, and Wharton representing the actions that I have tried to take to fulfill that sense of responsibility as a human being in this often difficult and challenging world.
We are living at a critical time. The world is what we choose to make it, and for a long time we have, as a species, seemed to embody a kind of self-interest that is unsustainable, both for ourselves and for the world in which we live.
My life, since I can remember, has been about observing the world and doing my damnedest to find some means to reflect its vagaries, its lessons, and its messages.
As a writer, as Executive Editor and Publisher of the crisis and conflict journal MIPJ, and as Executive Editor and Publisher of Humanitas Media Publishing, I have never taken a salary. I have instead put all of the money I have earned by other means into both personal projects and those of others that mean something and reflect the human condition and our world.
Now, in 2020, it seems more important than ever to focus a critical lens on who we are and how we can find some means of transcending the conflict, chaos, and issues that humanity has imposed upon ourselves and our world.
To do this, I — and some dedicated others whom I’ve worked with on the MIPJ — have created the blog, podcast, and compendium, Humanitas — which had its soft launch in 2019, but will be officially launching this summer— which seeks to marry contemporary international issues, literature, philosophy, psychology, art, science, and history to embody a concept that began with the Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero and found its greatest embodiment during the time of Renaissance Humanism.
These components, when brought together, offer a means to engage in ideas and a discourse on what it means to be human, and how humanity can best continue seeking wisdom and a more enlightened existence. This is indeed more important than ever, as is asking ourselves nuanced and essential questions.
As a last note, one of the greatest inspirations I have ever found is in the Medieval Quest Romances, which depicted those on a quest to find illumination. It is only those with the truest heart and soul who can enter the castle, see the procession of the Grail, and heal those who have long suffered the greatest of wounds. Even if one fails, s/he is always given a second chance to ask the essential question(s): who are we, and what ails us?
This passion to find the best in us, and to see it manifested in the outer world, is what we at Humanitas also seek. To do that, we must ask the right questions, and take the right actions, and have compassion and be champions for others other than ourselves.
As one scholar of Medieval literature once said: the Quest has no formulae. The mistake Man has made has been has been to go in search of his Soul, which does not need finding, but exploring only, entering by a door which has always been open within him.
But before that door may be reached, there are gates which are well-guarded.
My hope is to reflect an inspiration to go beyond those well-guarded gates, finding a means to transcend them, and by doing so, further inspiring others to do the same.
K.J. Wetherholt is the Publisher/Executive Editor of MIPJ, Humanitas Media Publishing, and Humanitas, which had its soft-launch in 2019. She currently also writes about war and humanity, a book about war correspondents on the Western Front during WWI, The Illumination: A Novel of the Great War, re-released Memorial Day, May 27, 2019. An upcoming monograph on the ELN in the Colombian civil war will be published later this year.