To say we live in a polarizing climate barely scratches the surface of this dung heap of misinformation, bias, and outright stupidity.
I’m not remotely qualified to diagnose this problem, but I feel pretty confident in saying that it goes deeper than politics, religion, and whatever other structures we ascribe ourselves to. I think part of the problem lies somewhere in people’s ability (or lack thereof) to think critically. To reason. To look further than the current situation and see the potential future consequences.
I’m even less qualified to offer a solution than I am to offer a diagnosis, but I’d like to propose something that could help treat the symptoms while we continue to seek out a cure for the actual illness.
It’s writers, of course.
We need more of them, and what I mean by that is that we need more writers to engage, to participate. Why? Firstly, critical thinking is our job. Writing is much more than just putting scratches on paper, it’s delving into problems, not necessarily to solve them, but to explore them. That takes critical thinking skills, and I think we can all agree that those skills are a bit lacking right now.
With some practice, those critical thinking skills can help a writer forge a meaningful story that explores issues. We need more of that. We need less tweets and out-of-context news articles and more novels that delve into problems. Novels have a way of communicating where Twitter, Facebook, and even the media fail. 1984 has seen some attention in recent months, and other books like Farenheit 451, The Feminine Mystique, and Silent Spring all delved into complex problems and spurred thought and action from their readers.
I’m not saying that writers are without bias, because I actually think we’re some of the most biased people out there, but unlike some of our friends on both sides of the aisle, we have the training to make arguments through narrative and novel.
This post may sound like an ego boost for writers, but I hope it’s more of a call to arms. In a world full of senselessness, it’s our place to bring some sense to it. Writers aren’t at all the only ones who can make a difference, but writing is a method of building a better world, of making a difference in some small way, even if it’s simply encouraging consideration and tolerance of other ideas.
To those who already write, don’t stop. Don’t be afraid to push against stereotypes and boundaries. And to those who say, “I’ve always wanted to write a book,” do it. Everyone has something to offer.
As always, thank you for reading. Feel free to share your thoughts below!