‘Preach! Write! Act! Do anything except lie down and die!’
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas was killed on impact on the 15th of May by a lone gunman in Sinaloa state in the middle of the day. He is the seventh journalist to die in 2017 because of what he did: tell true stories about drugs, guns, corruption that most people were unwilling to hear.
Since 2003, Valdez’s newspaper, Ríodoce, has been covering cartel activities. Opposed by government, threatened by drug lords, the publication has been called the only source of honest reporting on the drug war in Sinaloa. ‘Let them kill us all,’ Valdez said this March, ‘if that is the penalty for reporting this hell.’ His death adds one more name to the list of 105 journalists killed, 23 missing in the past seventeen years.
Someone once said that the most important days in a person’s life are two. The first is the day he is born. The second: the day he finds out why. Death is a universal certainty, and as such, means nothing at all. We are defined, distinguished then, by what we choose to die for.
Valdez’s brother often asked him if he was afraid.
He said yes, he was a human being.
Then why do it?
I don't want to be asked, 'What were you doing in the face of so much death ... why didn't you say what was going on?'
The force of impact is energy converted into work. Purpose determines the point of impact; we choose our target and aim.
Preach! Write! Act!
Stand, live for something, anything. Choose your impact, and what kills you on impact, otherwise something else will.
Valdez is gone, the cartels are not, and the sun still rose today. Drug trafficking is rampant and most journalist killings go unpunished in Mexico. But Valdez is the reason narco-journalism exists and so many victims’ stories have been told. The reason the sun rose and someone else this morning spoke out against drugs, guns, corruption.
[…] Someone has to do it. You have to fight to change things.
And keep fighting till they do.
Preach! Write! Act! Convert energy to work, even though shrapnel may fly. The point is not that Valdez died. The point is that he lived.