There are so many issues being debated these days, a flood of different opinions drowning my Facebook feed. People get contentious and offended and downright dirty, throwing blue and gold fireballs like angry kung fu fighters summoning every ounce of qi in their bodies to destroy their opponents in an act of revenge.
Frankly, I usually ignore all of that. I would rather look at pictures of cats and take random quizzes to find out what Disney Princess is most like me. It’s not that I don’t care about the issues themselves. I already know what my beliefs and opinions are, and I’m quite willing to politely discuss any and every issue with others, as long as we both respect that we aren’t always going to see eye to eye. I just don’t like reading the personal attacks, disrespect, and hateful words people use on each other when they have a difference of opinions.
It’s for this reason that I rarely post any of my personal views, and I don’t comment on others’ posts either. I avoid confrontation as though it were an infestation of rodents with Yersinia pestis.
But the other day, I was thinking about how this may affect my writing, even though I write fiction, not politics or theology.
Like how I refrain from writing characters who are far different from what I know and who I am, characters who may not share my beliefs or lifestyle. This stems from my fear of upsetting people. I’m afraid they will become angry with me for writing it.
As I’m writing this letter, I’m even too afraid to say exactly what I mean, but you know, what the hell. Here it is.
I am afraid of upsetting you. I am afraid of disappointing you.
Some of you share my opinions and social background, while the rest of you have completely polar views and experiences to mine.
Those of you who have grown up in the church, like me, might have a problem with me having certain characters in my story like an atheist or a drug addict or a gay man. You may believe I, being a Christian, have a duty to write about Christian things. To write about God fearing people. To not throw out cuss words.
Meanwhile, my more liberal friends, you may have a problem with me writing about things that don’t represent my personal lifestyle. Because I don’t share those experiences or beliefs, who am I to write about it?
And that’s what I’m really worried about, as I read so many argumentative, hateful comments from all sides of the spectrum on key issues of this current world.
I…I don’t know. And I’m starting not to care anymore. Because I don’t need anyone’s permission to write about what I feel like writing or from whose perspective I write.
And anyone who has opinions against me…well, you’re most likely not my friend then.
I want to write about people. Real people. Whether those fictional real people would hug me or spit on me in real life is irrelevant. Real people are imperfect, flawed, quirky, interesting, frustrating. Real people believe different things and live different lifestyles. Gay or straight, hypocrite or sinner or saint, pro choice or pro life, whatever religion or ethnic group. They could cuss in every sentence, sleep with strangers every night, have every addiction known to mankind. But they are real.
And in the end, I still believe God loves us all. And I believe I have to try to connect with everyone, to put myself in their shoes, to write from their perspective, so that I may better understand them. In so doing, I hope that whatever I write will help me, and maybe others, understand that God’s love is meant for everyone. And that I may have Jesus’s love for not only the friendly and loveable, but for the haters as well.