Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Writer's Responsibility..... Part 2

In my last post I urged everyone to set aside their personal views and call ceasefires on arguments on interpersonal issues in order to address the larger scale concerns facing our country. Further I suggested that people ask "why" and read between the lines rather than taking news stories at face value. To take it even further, I wish to address some issues I am seeing in the young adult and new adult genres. I fear that there is a culture of irresponsibility when it comes to YA/NA works - the content, particularly social situations, are not reflective of the current times.

Allow me to illustrate this point. I recently sat on a panel regarding young adult and new adult romance novels. A question was posed about representing same sex relationships in YA/NA literature and it was put forth that schools would not allow such books in their libraries. My response was surprisingly well received. I simply chimed in and firmly noted that by neglecting to address same sex relationships we do a disservice to our children. The room fell surprisingly silent and I was allowed to continue, something along these lines. It does not matter how we feel personally it matters how the children feel and the absence of literature representing a faction of our society tells the children it is wrong, shameful, etc. When a child, tween or teenager is having feelings they cannot possibly understand and then they read books that show life a certain way over and over and over again, it becomes apparent to them that what they are feeling is wrong and that they are somehow wrong. To make matters worse, other kids are reading the same things and also getting the message that anything outside "the norm" is wrong. So we wonder where bullying comes from? I won't address bullying at this time, you get the gist..

Now, to be fair, I also pointed out that I am sure that same sex relationships are already present in schools and referenced a particular series by Cassandra Clare that makes no bones about same sex relationships even if only at secondary and tertiary character levels. But my argument extends to far more than same sex relationships. What about divorce? Drugs? Teen pregnancy? Abuse? Children need to understand all aspects of our society in order to grow and appropriately respond to the world they live in. I posit that we see a lot of inappropriate responses to things because kids don't have any clue on how to cope and the adults in their lives just cannot seem to deal with them. I am seeing a trend for parents to seal their kids off and believe it will work. Do you think that staves off their curiosity? Of course not. Where would you have them go? In this digital age what do you see happening? How do you propose to shelter these children from everything? Burn the internet?

I am certain that some parents are quite indignant now but I will not apologize. I am only noting a trend I am seeing. You can overhear a lot of conversations at school functions and I have been part of many conversations that left me shocked and disappointed. It is devastating to hear these parents say "I don't allow my children to watch x, y and z" to keep them from finding out undesirable information. SUCKERS! Kids are innovative and kids talk and I guarantee that where there is a will there is a way. Isn't it better to have very informative, honest discussions with our children to present them with all of the facts (in an age appropriate manner, of course)??

I digress, I am not writing this post to lecture on how to raise a child. Not at all. I am simply using this as a way to illustrate my point, a way to address the larger issue. It isn't just children who suffer from a void of information or, even worse, an excessive amount of incorrect information. However, children learn their behaviors from somewhere and what I am seeing on the athletic fields, in the classrooms and sadly, out in public, concerns me. We are not teaching our kids, we are indoctrinating them with the same ignorance we seem to be embracing. Nothing good can come of this. Have you seen the movie Idiocracy?

I have been told not once, not twice, but thrice that my daughter should not be asking 'why' as much as she does. My response? Why?? Kids SHOULD be asking why. Kids should be free to ask as many questions as they want/need in order to understand what they don't. I am so proud that my daughter does not take things at their face value. My concern is that she is meeting so much resistance. And she is not the only child asking questions. Where will she find her answers?  Where will the other kids like her? Why would we want to stomp out that inquisitiveness?

Ignorance begets about we break the cycle??

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Writer's Responsibility.... Part 1

I know people will disagree with me this week.

Hell, I expect to get hate messages in some shape or form but the time for silence has come and gone.

I have come to realize that the written word is a very powerful thing and to that end every person who writes has a responsibility to think about what they are putting out in the world. A message perceived as positive by one person could be quite negative to another as much as the absence of a message can be read as disapproval of the subject.

It seems to me that mass media has become little more than a smokescreen these days, a tool to create discord amongst people to the point of squabbling over superficial issues while the real political concerns slide through unnoticed. Debt, disease, greed, war - aren't these more important than same sex marriage or what celebrity was arrested for a DUI?

At some point we are going to have to set aside our egos, rein in our personal belief systems and address what is happening around us. Not to go all Chicken Little on you all, but the world is pretty much a mess and we are spending more time arguing about who can marry and reproduce. When people are starving and dying of preventable diseases it seems silly to fight about who can say "I do."

I'm not posting my personal beliefs on these issues at this time because it would cheapen my argument and render me a hypocrite. My point is that we are falling victims to our own moral crusades over the wrong issues. And why is that? Because we have stopped thinking for ourselves and rely solely on the reports from whichever news medium we choose to follow. Guess what? They are all skewed. Stop and think. Think about what is happening. Read between the lines, what isn't being said? Ask "why" whenever you can and then do your damnedest to find the answers. Believe me they are there if you are willing to set aside your own egos and find them. You may HATE the very idea of a same sex relationship and that is your prerogative but is yelling at an Ally or Advocate going to really change their minds? You may find abortions and birth control to be morally reprehensible but how does either impact the big picture?

Instead of beating your head on a wall over issues that are interpersonal and rather private, why not backpedal and look for another outlet, another cause that is just as deplorable in your mind, a cause that you CAN affect?? While we are arguing over these issues, bankers, pharmaceutical companies and politicians are swindling us. What would happen if both sides of the same sex marriage argument just put aside the battle and turned on something worse? What if we pushed through the smoke and mirror debates to the heart of what is destroying our country? Ah, now that is something I would love to see.

I challenge everyone to step outside themselves, outside their own personal belief systems and look at where the real evil lies. Blindly supporting a politician because s/he claims to believe the same things you do is not productive for anybody. What's that saying about politicians and lying? I guess the better question is "which one works best?" Put aside your rigid beliefs and look at the bigger picture. Dealing in absolutes, especially uninformed absolutes, is irresponsible and ultimately what landed us in the state we are in.

Remember that mass media is in it to make money these days, gone are the days of getting the truth. It's all about the story and sensationalism.  How much truth do you think you are getting with your morning paper? How much is left out by the editors? How much is trimmed away to hype a scandal? And what is left on the cutting room floor that we really SHOULD know?

Please, put away your self-righteousness and embrace the reality before we all get swindled.