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No matter what happens outside of you, dear reader, you must resist the voice of fear.

You must resist it to the point of utter defiance if you are ever going to overcome the limitations you have believed about yourself.

You must defy it.

Aggressively. Intentionally.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the staircase.”

While we can spend an inordinate amount of time planning for the future and trying to cross every T and dot every I, sometimes life shows up and punches you square in the fucking throat.

I remember sitting in my statistics class in high school when the news broke about Columbine.

I don’t even think I had completely woken up yet - and yet I still remember feeling one thing in particular after the broadcast ended.

It was the thought that school was no longer a safe place.

(Not that it ever really felt like one…kids can be terrible to each other..but you get what I mean.)

It was, at least for me, a big turning point where the reality of the outside world and how dark it can be started creeping into my subconscious.

I grew up as an 80’s and 90’s kid - where all the stories I read and the TV shows my friends and I watched always had the good guys win.

Columbine was, for me, one of the first times that it hit me that sometimes…hell, a lot of times…the bad guys win.

It was one of the first times that it really dawned on me that evil isn’t something that anyone really understands - because I remember watching the news anchors look like they were at a loss for words just like my classmates and I.

It was one of the first times that the brick-in-the-face harshness of living on this floating blue rock really started sinking in.

That was the day I saw that the adults who were in the room with us were just as scared as we were.

It’s been a long time since Columbine - and I swear I don’t even have to look for it anymore - it seems like there’s a new shooting every couple of days.

Now, I’m not naive enough to think that shootings and things weren’t happening all around the world - of course they were.

But now with our 24 hour news cycle, there is always some new horrible tragedy that is clamping down on the attention of the public like a Vice Grip.

Is it any wonder that so many people are popping pills for anxiety?

We have devices in our pockets and in our living rooms and on our wrists that, unless we are careful, are sources of insane amounts of stress, fear, and worry.

There are no longer just 2 or 3 major news networks to get information from.

We have a limitless source of knowledge and data that we can access at any time.

In a world where your attention is directly proportional to the amount of dollars a company makes, are we surprised that advertising and marketing is starting to look more and more like Minority Report?

I say that as someone who runs a marketing company.

The largest companies in the world are keeping data logs of everything you do, everything you say, and everywhere you go in order to sell you more stuff.

If I wanted to, right now I could run an ad and have it only show up to people between the ages of 18 and 30 who like Nike running shoes and shop at Macy’s.

I could have that ad say anything I want and appear in front of thousands of very specific people for just a few dollars.

The reason I bring all of that up is to illustrate the point that it is very important for you to know who you are and what you stand for before you believe anything you read or anything you see on the Internet or on the news.

You have to know how to filter out information that is ultimately going to harm you and the process of you becoming the person you want to be.

You have to know what your core values are and the things that are non-negotiable for you.

Put in simpler terms, you have to know what you’re willing to die for before you can figure out what you’re willing to live for.

That is what makes you a powerful person.

Not how much money you have in the bank or how many titles you have or letters you paid a ton of money to get to add to the end of your name.

Not how many shares of stock you have or how many companies you run or how many books you’ve written or how many people you’ve influenced.

What makes you a powerful person is the ability to stand resolute for certain principles that make you who you are.

What are those things for you?

Have you ever asked yourself?

If not, why not?

What makes you a powerful person is the ability to look yourself in the mirror without shame and know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are doing everything you know to do to be the person you want to be.

What makes you a powerful person is the ability to challenge the narrative that you are handed and ask questions that demand answers.

I’ve been in media production and web development since I was a kid.

With the right skillset, it is quite simple to create a convincing narrative.

I chose to not take a career path in journalism because I hated how much manipulation was taught and how students are encouraged to use things like sex, sensationalism and fear in order to get people to read an article.

Especially fear.

Which brings me to the horrible shit that happened the other night in Orlando.

The few headlines I did see about the shooting all were basically using the same few words, carefully chosen to instill the most remorse and terror:

“WORST IN U.S. HISTORY, ETC.”

Now, the temptation when seeing these headlines is to immediately think that there is nowhere you can go that is safe.

The narrative that you are supposed to believe is that there is no longer any good in the world and that the world is getting darker and darker.

What I want to remind you is that you have a choice here what you will believe.

The news will not cover much of all of the hope and love that is being spread around the world right now in response to the tragedy that took the lives of so many the other night.

Remember - they want your attention. And the way to hold it, at least in their minds, is with fear and images that will haunt your dreams.

For me?

I’ve come to a point where I’m no longer willing to bow my knee to fear or accept the terror that the mainstream media tries its damned hardest to sell me.

Even if it means choosing to stay ignorant of the narrative that it spends billions and billions of dollars in order to perpetuate.

That doesn’t mean stay unaware of what’s happening in the world around you.

What it means, at least for me, is paying far more attention to the world right in front of me than the world within the borders of the devices I use to communicate with the outside world.

You can stay present and focused on creating the world you want to see or you can stay focused on the news and the media that is constantly vying for your attention.

You cannot do both.

Do you remember what it was like before we were constantly looking for the next best (Or worst) thing?

Do you remember what it was like before we felt the insane pressure to be simultaneously aware of everything that everyone else was doing and every terrible thing that was happening somewhere on the planet?

In case you’ve ever wondered why you never (or hardly never) hear good news on TV or online, let me be as clear as I can be: it’s because the people who run those organizations don’t think good news will make them money.

And they also know that keeping people afraid is the easiest way to keep them quiet when they’re unhappy about something.

Do you remember what it was like before we were constantly bombarded with news feeds, notifications, and being told what to think about from trending sections on popular websites?

I do. It’s faint, but it’s there.

I refuse to allow the fear that is bought, packaged and marketed to all of us stop me from pursuing a better world for my family and the those who come after us.

I refuse to allow the pundits and the media manipulators to dictate to all of us a world where fear, bigotry, hatred, and cruelty are the most important things to talk about over and over.

I CHOOSE to believe for a world where greed and corruption is ousted faster than it can take root.

I CHOOSE to believe that we can do better than all of the division and hatred that has split humanity apart for millennia.

I CHOOSE to believe that as a SPECIES, we will evolve beyond the animosity that drives wedges between tribes of people who could create amazing things together.

I CHOOSE to believe that we can learn from our mistakes, our failures, and the failures of our forefathers to create a world where we value one another’s humanity long before our political, ideological, or religious convictions.

I CHOOSE to believe that we do not have to bow our knee to dictators and tyrants - even wannabe ones.

I CHOOSE to believe that in my country and in the rest of the world, there are millions and millions and millions of people who are united in the pursuit of a future where we have evolved beyond the things that have divided us in the past.

Despite tragedy, despite fear, despite the pain of pushing forward through the hell that we can sometimes all find ourselves in…there is always hope.

Hope is not a quiet, pathetic thing.

It is defiant. It is strength beyond strength. It is an open taunt to the voice of fear.

It is not a feeling. It is a choice.

Hope does not ignore or pretend that fear and danger do not exist.

Hope defies them.

I choose hope.

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Ryan J. Rhoades

CEO & Creative Director at Reformation Designs
Ryan & his wife Laura are a media design team based in Salem, OR. They have worked with people from all walks of life: tech giants, authors, speakers, coaches, pastors, startups, students and entrepreneurs. They specialize in many forms of multimedia creation including graphic art and design, video production and social media marketing. They offer many types of design resources for sale and you can buy Ryan's latest book here.

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