I realized that over the past few years that many of the choices I've made are based solely on fear. I avoid discussions for fear of being judged. I avoid certain writing choices for the same reason. And, lately, I've been lax in my writing for fear of failure. Which, ironically (to the point of cliche), will eventually lead me to actual failure.
Authentic, genuine discussions are something that I enjoy. Discussions that build up the people engaging in them. Even when there isn't agreement. The problem is, people have very personal opinions, and society seems (from my perspective, which I admit could be skewed) to teach us that when someone disagrees with us, it's a personal attack. We have TV figures from Glenn Beck to Bill Maher getting up on TV and spewing their opinions in a way that overtly suggests that their way of thinking is the ONLY right way to think, and anyone who disagrees with them is OBVIOUSLY a hate-filled MONSTER. And when that inundates us every day, we start to believe that if anyone disagrees with us, they hold the same belief about us.
At least, that's the fear that's driven many of my choices lately.
In my writing, I don't discuss societal issues as a means of driving change. That's not why I write. I write to entertain in an authentic manner. Any character that I decide to create is a choice based on the BEST way to tell the story, not a means to preach some political, moral, or societal issue.
But I live in fear of some of those decisions. The book I'm pitching features a platinum-blonde, female protagonist. I'm not afraid of being accused of writing a female protagonist to sell books because a male protagonist COULD NOT have accomplished the feats described in this story. My fear (in my darkest moments) is that someone will accuse me of racism because she's white.
It's a sci-fi story. Her friend (a hispanic male) isn't the strong leader she needed to be to accomplish what she does. But I hear the critics (even though I'm nowhere near publication on this book) screaming, "Why is she white?"
The answer I have is because that's the image I had when the character popped into my brain. And changing it would have been inauthentic.
Now, I'm writing a book where the female protagonist is the daughter of a black woman and a white man. Both of those characters are extremely successful (because that's possible, and anyone who says it's not is a racist!). For the sake of making the character come alive, I mention this fact in the story. But it takes place 300 years in the future, so I'm not going to focus on it as a social issue. Societally, it's not something that matters as much, especially with the people she's going to be interacting with. It's a simple fact of appearance, and beyond that, she's a person deserving of respect and equality just like EVERY other person in the galaxy.
But, again, fear makes me want to stop. "Why is she half-black?" I hear the critics cry. And as I typed those words I hear the P.C. fanatics scream at me, too. I am afraid. I am afraid of being judged and hated when all I want is to show real people in real situations (however fancifully created in sci-fi and fantasy settings) living life to their fullest. Because I love people. Dividing people up into groups actually bothers me, and not in that hippy-dippy kinda way that makes you want to burn down every hemp field in the world.
What drives me more than fear is Matthew 22:37-40 (from the Bible): "Love God with every fiber of your being, and love your neighbor as yourself." (paraphrased) To me, that means that every person I meet should be treated as equally important as I am. I haven't spoken of my personal beliefs so openly on this blog in years (though way back in the archive you can find tons of it), again from fear. I'm not afraid of being judged for them, but more afraid of being misunderstood. But what I want everyone to know is that, no matter how much I may disagree with one opinion or another, I believe that God created every man, woman, and child, and that He loves them very much. And if I claim to love Him, then I need to show it by loving others.
I know this is a rambling post, and a lot of it is the type of thing that I would shy away from under normal circumstances. I don't know why I'm saying it today. Maybe it's just so that I can be honest. Maybe it's because I'm tired. Tired of bottling things up, putting on a strong face, and pretending that everything is okay.
But also know that, no matter who you are, someone out there loves you. I may not like or approve of what you do (especially if it causes harm to other people), but it's not my place to judge. It's my place to love my neighbor.
And in case that's confusing, Google the story of the Good Samaritan.