I’m going to wade into the ugly lake of politics here, but not in the way you might think. What follows might upset you. If it does, ask yourself why.
I was lucky enough to find Sonny Bunch’s essay on the concept of forbearance in the Washington Free Beacon. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it as an incisive piece, something that you can find yourself nodding along with as you absorb it (or, as my little boy says, “think about it with your brain“).
I’m as much into politics and current events (the two are inseparable) as anyone, and more than most. My political/philosophical viewpoint has been honed by personal experience, research, and careful reflection. Regular readers of this blog know that I like to strip away euphemism to get to the heart of things. To dig deep. You grow when you’re made to feel uncomfortable. I like to write fiction, but I won’t live it.
One of the reasons I write this blog is to stretch myself, to write about things I hadn’t before, like short stories/flash fiction, or war stories from my past employer. But I’m also here to create that all-important writer’s platform: a place where people can find me online and learn about my books. The dirty little secret nobody in writing wants to tell anyone is that the vast majority of writers don’t want to blog, Facebook, or get involved in any kind of social media. They just want to write their books, and they want you to buy them.
Honestly, I can’t stand Twitter. I loathe it. But it’s a social media box to check, so I’m there and I participate.
With all that in mind, I have strong, informed opinions about the issues of the day, but I won’t communicate all of them here. This blog, first and foremost, is about building a relationship with you, my readers, and if I tell you exactly what I think about, say, the recent election returns, half of you will be turned off.
So despite that I want to talk about what’s going on with Ebola in the US, what happened a week ago on Election Day, and other such things, I can’t. I shouldn’t. I…forbear. Even though controversy and disagreement get attention.
See, I’m not this guy:
Huge amounts of snow in Maine yesterday! Republican voters should probably stay home tomorrow, safe & dry! HAHAHAHAHA.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) November 3, 2014
As jokes go, it’s weak sauce, and even King himself saw that, hence the HAHAHAHA. However, I’m quite familiar with his other non-fiction pieces, and I know for a fact that he thinks that people to the right of him politically are not only stupid, but actually evil. He’s allowed. Just as I’m allowed to find my horror literature elsewhere.
I understand that it’s very difficult to forbear when you’re certain that the people who disagree with you are actively trying to destroy the world. It’s like making friends with a murderer. The idea, however, that refusal to invest in failing green energy businesses means that you’re in favor of ruining the planet with global warming is a false equivalency, and descends into the lack of a sense of proportion that I already talked about. Achieving that sense of proportion and combining it with forbearance create a grace we used to have before instantaneous, semi-anonymous communication changed us into, well…take your pick of rude words. We’ve changed as a culture, and not for the better.
Just because we disagree, even on the important things, it doesn’t mean one of us is an evil idiot.
Forbearance is very much a prized quality, more so for its rarity. It’s something to work on, because it inspires grace and civility, even in the most heated communications media.