I’m sorry to sound melodramatic, but I’m finding it harder than ever to write stories when things like the hoedown in Charlottesville are going on in the world.
That is by far the least important consequence of that fiasco, but it’s the only one I’m qualified to talk about.
I think the reason I’m finding it harder to write stories right now is because I have the sneaking terror that stories are a part of the problem. It seems so easy for dumb and purposeless people to watch a deluge of entertainment about plucky heroes breaking all the rules solely on the basis of their own convictions and see that as the only way to be truly alive.
To be fighting for something. Even if something isn’t really fighting them first.
What I see in that terrible crowd in Charlottesville are people who want to be the heroes of stories without knowing what that really means, who want to be special for believing things they think no one else is smart or brave enough to believe. There’s hatred and anger of course inside them, but there’s a petulance, too – a resistance to what’s true because they don’t want to be told what’s true.
They’re certain they’re right because everyone else thinks they’re wrong, which is what they see always happening with heroes.
They’re the Dick Rebellion, the Bro Alliance, and we’re the Evil Galactic Empire.
It’s not the fault of the stories or the storytellers, really. These are terrible readers and viewers, people who skip or fail to grasp the second act when real heroes learn that strength also requires some doubt and introspection. They’re also suffering a lack of variety in their entertainment diet, too much Transformers and not enough Grapes of Wrath.
I’m not blaming entertainment for their attitudes, and I’m not suggesting their own bad comprehension is the only factor behind them. There’s plenty of institutional racism and sexism involved, not to mention the simple endless pulse of hormones that have nothing useful to do in a civilized society.
On days like today when my fingers hover above the keys instead of pressing them, it is because the already daunting task of sending words to another mind seems even more futile when the receivers are hellbent on hearing so little.
It isn’t stories that are beating and killing people, but I can’t shake the feeling that the people who are find succor in the stories they’re misreading. I have no idea what to do about that.
I suppose it’s always been that way, and it is only the quantity of the misread messages and the easy access to news of the consequences that’s different.
That’s not helping today.