Courage or Cowardice?
Even if you pursue a different course than I believe is wise, you may be right and I may be wrong, or each of us may be, in different ways, right. You may do more to make the world a better place than I ever manage to do. I ask the question because it is one I wrestle with. I am not satisfied that I have found the best answer.
When I learn of suffering and injustice, should I set aside the writing I'd like to be doing, and write endless articles in the hope someone will take notice? Or, should I learn about these things, absorb them, and then write whatever I am inclined to, trusting that my sensibilities will come through and influence my readers? One way, I am unhappy and it seems that no one ever listens.
The other way seems so inadequate, so selfish, even if there are examples of authors whose fiction has helped to shape the opinions of a society. I understand one of the reasons the media won't cover these stories; most people are tired of hearing about them, worn out with learning of tragedies it seems they can do nothing to prevent. I, too, am tired of hearing about them.
I'd like nothing more than to know that the outrages were ended, there was no need to hear of them or think of them any more. But that isn't the way the world works. So, as a writer, I have to ask myself the question, "What should I do? How can I best help?" Writing is my greatest talent, however limited that talent may be. And those who are weary of thinking about such things are more likely to read my thoughts if they're slipped into a work of fiction.
Yet, as any fiction writer knows, you can't write a thinly disguised tract and have it entertain anyone. Yes, I could churn out a melodrama within a few weeks, complete with sympathetic victims and posturing, horribly evil villains. And no one would want to read it, and even if they did, it would not do justice to the complexity of the subject.
You can't force fiction. I have to write the ideas that come to me. Will the right idea ever arrive? I have no way of knowing. Which way lies courage, and which way cowardice? I will probably continue to do as I have so far, writing fiction, and occasionally howling out in words of grief and rage when I learn of some more unbearable tragedy.
What does that make me? Am I a coward for not confronting these issues head on? Or would I simply be wasting my effort, doing nothing but easing my own conscience? The final decision is mine, I bear the responsibility, but I welcome the opinions of any of my readers who feel they have any answers. And I fear, whatever decision I make, I will never be wholly at peace with it as long as hatred takes its awful toll on the innocent.