Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Philosophy of a Fool

The Philosophy of a Fool

Welcome to my first (but hopefully far from my last) blog post, I though long and hard about what my first post would be about, so hopefully you will take something away from it to enliven your day.

As writers, we have a pretty awesome job. We can create entirely new worlds. We can populate them with wondrous and fanciful creatures. We can direct the very lives of our characters, choosing what they do, what they say and defining every aspect of their behavior.  Now, THAT is neat! I suspect that the reason that many of us embarked on the path of writing fiction was that it allowed us the opportunity to be somewhere else than where we actually were. It made us the masters of all that we surveyed. It continues to do that for me to this day. I think whenever a writer loses that ability to imagine themselves elsewhere, that it is time to choose a new avocation.

There is, unfortunately, a downside to this world-creating transportation ability. At the end of the day, when the last word of our writing is saved, we return to the same old world that we were in before. The creatures are not ours to choose, characters  run amok, and so many, many aspects of the world around us are, simply, beyond our control. Not so neat, eh?

I doubt that it is conceivable that anyone living in the technology-inundated, live-time news world that we all live is not aware of the truly horrendous damage that Mother Nature has recently inflicted upon Japan. News footage of the devastation makes it seem almost beyond the scope of our imaginations to believe. But sadly, it is all too real and we can not write it away.

 I have been watching and reading coverage regarding this disaster that has been truly disturbing. I say disturbing in that it dealt with recovery efforts and humanitarian aid to these beleaguered people. Several sources have lamented that, perhaps given the state of the economy, people simply don't have the means to reach out monetarily to help out. The far more disturbing news was that many people simply don't care to worry about the fate of perfect strangers. In some cases, there has even been a xenophobic backlash effect. I saw one man who opined that, since Japan had forcefully dominated the world economy in years past, perhaps this was karma coming back around on them. He actually seemed to believe that it was some twisted vengeance being taken on the Japanese for past (perceived) wrongdoing. Inconceivable you say? Perhaps not.

When I was a 14-year old lad taking a high school creative writing class, we were given the assignment to compose a work that evoked strong emotions. I reached inside myself and outside to the world around me. As a side note, it is always awesome to me how history continues to loop back on itself. This was the mid-70's when gasoline was in short supply, jobs were scarce and times were reasonably rough. (sound familiar?)  My finished product was a poem dedicated to indifference. I would like to share it in the context of this blog post.

I live in my own world and I don't care
what's happening in distant lands somewhere.
The sorrow and the pain they feel, I do not choose to see.
Their relative condition doesn't matter much to me.

You can see that I don't really give a damn
who in the world is worse off than I am.
For I have matters of my own to which I must attend.
No time have I the sick and helpless masses to defend.

Yet, if when I am finished and I have an hour or two,
perhaps then I will come and try to lend some aid to you.
But if when I arrive I find you are no longer there?
Then rest assured that, deep inside, I didn't really care.

 Not a very long poem but rather disturbing in what it says. How many people think likewise? I fear far too many. As inundated as we are by tragedies all about us, too many have simply become desensitized to the suffering and pain of others. It is unfortunate but perhaps, in a perverse sort of way, not unexpected. It behooves us to reach down to that inner core we all have and resurrect within ourselves that "caring gene".

I, like many, simply do not have the wherewithal to reach out and assist these unfortunates in a monetary way. I heartily applaud the efforts of talented writers such as my Twittermate Al Boudreau who is donating huge portions of the earnings from his book: A Tale of Greed to Japan disaster relief. 

I implore you, in closing, to support the efforts of these wonderful writers who are spearheading the effort to do what we all wish we might do.

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