After the horrible events of this past week and all the talk about gun control and supporting the treatment of mental health and targeting Christians and President Obama's reaction and the left vs. the right and all the other rhetoric that inevitably follows a hideous crime like the one in Oregon, I closed my eyes and ears to all that was being sent around the world via the internet, newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, and thought.
I let my mind wander around all the information thrown at us, all the arguments, the pleas, the sorrow, anger, bewilderment, lies, and truths, and I knew it would never change. Every time one of these tragedies occurs (and it will again, sooner or later), we start up. We take our frustrations out on each other, on those who see things differently than we do, and then ... eventually ... the furor dies down again to the slow simmer of a hearty stew of hatred, misinformation, facts, lies, half-truths, and full-out fears for ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, and nation.
Until it happens again. Until all the blustering starts up again. Until someone turns up the heat and it roars into a full boil once more.
But what happens in-between? What happens when the horror abates and those of us who aren't left with the gaping hole in our families and hearts left by a madman go back to business as usual? Yes, I suppose there are people working behind the scenes to correct the way America deals with its mentally unstable population or continue the fight for or against gun control. In fact, I know so. But what of the rest of us? More specifically, what about writers?
That made me realize that we writers can play an important role in the plight of our nation. There's enough glory-, headline-, attention-grabbing going on among news outlets, so our role has to be something deeper, something more meaningful. But what?
Finally, it dawned on me that we don't have to do anything differently from what we're doing right now, i.e., writing about the kindnesses or injustices or love or hate or meaning of life without the inflammatory nature of senseless acts of violence and hatred. While we know we can't singlehandedly stop the atrocities happening around our country and world (and we certainly can't ignore it), we can add to the forces fighting them. We can do our jobs. We can realize just how important our work really is. Who better to spread the word than those who use words to express themselves every minute of every day and night? And who do so eloquently and with compassion and kindness and love and humility and humor and a healthy fear of what the enemy wants to do to us at every turn? While we don't espouse, as a whole, any one solution--we are, after all, individuals with different opinions--we can chip away at the root causes of our country's problems by chiming in with the "positives" and refusing to be one of the "negatives."
We are writers and our tools are words. We can use our tools to make others more aware of what goes on around us by entertaining, illuminating, and teaching. Whether we are journalists or limerick writers, humorists or gentle storytellers, whether we write for the very young or the very old or everyone in-between, we have a powerful means of delivering messages.
We have words. And we know how to use them. Let's use them for good, my friends.
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