Isaac Asimov, for example, in his Foundation series, created entire world societies that delved deeply into the political and social machinations of human culture. His Robot series, through the eyes of his protagonist humanoid detective, weighed dispassionately the political debates that inflame much of our world.
Robert Heinlein, with Strangers in a Strange Land, a most controversial book at the time of its creation, discussed at length the synergistic interplay between politics and religion.
Many other writers make political, social and religious statements by the very nature of the worlds and societies they build. And while these novels and stories are meant to entertain, they also send very real messages about the author’s world views.
I, on the other hand, have no such qualms about sharing my views and opinions in a public forum. If you’ve been to my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/david.erickson.986 you see that I offer an eclectic combination of posts, many quite political. Each day I receive several email updates from political commentators that create the appearance of a world gone stark raving mad.
Sadly, we rarely hear from people who reflect the views of the mainstream, of political, social and religious centrists. Most of what is available to the general public are the rantings of lunatics, bigots, idiots and writers who make their living telling their followers what they want to hear, regardless of the damage that may cause. In the back of my mind I must remember that these writers are doing this to make a living by meeting the demands of their employers. A veritable flood of disinformation, poorly formed opinions and disturbing perspectives.
By our very nature, writers have a broader and deeper understanding of the world about us. We are better educated and more knowledgeable than the average bear. While it doesn’t make our opinions and beliefs sacrosanct, it does mean we are better positioned to see through the clutter, to view and comprehend the motivations of a wide range of perspectives in a more dispassionate light. It also affords us the opportunity to offer intelligent discourse, which is so often lacking.
Writers aren’t perfect. We can be wrong. I am often reminded of that when someone offers supporting articles and websites that counter what I’ve written. But, unlike many who accept what is offered without question, we weight the value within the context of the source’s motivations and bias. We also alter our views when proven wrong. Nothing is written in stone. We don’t see anything as gospel.
We come to our views much like anyone else. We are a product of our genetic makeup, our rearing and the culture from whence we sprang. The primary difference between writers and the general population is that we read. Profusely. Fiction, non-fiction, blogs, news, social media posts – the whole gamut.
If we don’t understand something or feel we need a deeper analysis to form a cogent argument, we do the homework. We seek out sources that offer different perspectives or far greater detail regarding what matters to us. The average bear does not. Because of this, we often appear arrogant and condescending, playing ourselves as the harbingers of knowledge. Why? Because we read, then we write about it.
The benefit of being writers is that we are always editing what we write, what we see and hear, even the conversations we’ve had or plan on having before we offer our insight. A true writer often has trouble enjoying fluff pieces and TV shows because we see the flaws, the plot devices and the limitations of the media. We know we can do it better. Thus it is also the bane of being a writer.
And yes, most writers are oddballs and thus our views are often taken in that context, diminishing the value of our opinions to others who’ve bought the highly biased, rarely nuanced and shallow drivel that passes for news reporting these days.
So, I would suggest that you listen to your writer friends, ignoring their quirks and social ineptitude, realizing that, as writers, our duty to ourselves and others is to read and to read a lot. In that way it allows us to see beyond the clutter and get to the nuggets of truth that lie at the core of everything.
What do you think? Are writers nutcases, lost in a fantasy world of their own creation? Or do you see us as smarter or better informed than the average bear?