Why do we write? Why are we writers? I believe the answer is, because we want to change the world. Because we have something we feel it’s important to say, a point to make about human nature, a bit of inside intel that we believe will give our readers insight, and help them navigate this beautiful, cruel, awe-filled mortal coil.
Because as writers we understand that all stories are a call to action.
That is precisely why we’re wired for story; stories are how we make sense of the world around us. Not metaphorically, but literally. It’s biological. Stories are the world’s first virtual reality -- fMRI studies have shown that when you’re lost in a story the same areas of your brain light up that would if you were doing what the protagonist is doing. You. Really. Are. There. Stories mainline meaning, and help us understand, and feel, the “why” beneath the “what.”
Stories are how we begin to understand each other. Stories are how we come together. Stories are how we find the common humanity in all of us.
And, sometimes, stories are how we discover that what we thought was true, isn’t. Which can be the most important discovery of all. But only if writers have the courage to be vulnerable, and speak up for what they believe, knowing that there will be those who disagree.
It’s not about being right, it’s about being open. It’s about listening to each other, especially when we disagree.
And that means owning what we believe. Not couching it. There is no “safe space” if by safe it’s meant neutral. As Elie Wiesel said: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Going one step further, the goal isn’t to vilify the person, or group, seen as the oppressor or the tormentor, but to understand why they believe what they do. That is the heart and soul – and power -- of story.
So, with that in mind, full disclosure: I believe that the political, the personal, and the professional are one thing. I am not a business. I am a person. And I believe that our country has taken a frightening turn. And that the only way to turn things around is for us to come together and share our visions, our beliefs, and the “why” behind what we believe, what we do, how we see the world. Without that, we will remain a nation divided, each side deeply suspicious of the other.
I know that there may be some people who will unfollow me now. You may simply flat out disagree, or you may feel that this isn’t the space for this kind of talk. And that is fine. I respect that.
But what I hope is that those of you who might want to unfollow me, will instead open a dialogue with me, so we can better understand each other.
It’s hard to say that, and it’s hard to do. But at the end of the day, I believe it’s not only what will save us, but it’s the thing that will ultimately give us the most joy. Here’s to camaraderie, and working together.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.