Monday, November 30, 2015

Silencing The Opposition

I don't really get political here.  Anyone who knows me knows I'm somewhere in the left-leaning moderate range, and I won't actively pretend I'm not that... but at the same time, I don't really make too many political statements in general.  I don't tend to get worked up over things and feel a need to march over here and make some sort of statement.  More often than not, someone else with a larger platform has already said it better, so there's not a whole lot of point to me adding my voice to the chorus.  Mind you-- this is a privilege.  I have the privilege not to care so much to make a fight.  I know plenty of people whose lived reality means they have to make the fight.
But I sometimes like a good political argument.  I have a few friends on Facebook and such who lean in the other direction-- some vociferously so-- and when they post something I consider ridiculous, I'll roll up my sleeves and go in there.  But mostly because I enjoy the spar.  I never question their right to their opinion or their value as a member of society for holding it.
Because, as much as I disagree, then one thing I never want to do is shut them up.
I lead off with this, because I often find that the "win condition" most people have, on both extremes of opinion, is that the other side will just slink away and shut up.  Yes, I know, the "both sides do it" is something of a lame trope in and of itself, but the overarching theme of "we're right, and those idiots are wrong, and when will they figure it out or shut the hell up?" is common to both of them.  Both on the left and the right I see people go into narrower and narrower spirals of People Who Think Different Than Me Are Idiots, and nothing good comes from that.
This is the result of bubbling yourself in an echo chamber.  Part of why I don't want my conservative friends to shut up and go away-- besides the fact that they're friends-- is I do not want the echo chamber.
Silencing opposing views just makes all of us weaker.  I always love the quote Aaron Sorkin liked to re-use in several of his works: "If you're dumb, surround yourself with smart people.  If you're smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you."
To wrap this back around to writing-- you need to have other viewpoints in your life to understand them and write from them.  If you shut that out, it'll be reflected in the work.  Then you get books that are screeds and message laden.  Flawlessly right heroes and cardboard villains whose main plan is "be stupid".  How is this interesting?  Well, from what I've seen, that sort of thing is interesting to people in the same echo chamber.  And if you want to write that story, power to you.  I'm not interested.
When I drafted The Way of the Shield-- a book filled with Maradaine politics-- one of the points I felt I needed to hit was to understand everyone's point of view and write it as legitimate when I was writing in their voice.  An early version fell apart because I wasn't taking my villain seriously.  Understanding the work beyond my own comfort zone was what allowed me to make that work.
So, I'll argue, if I feel like jumping in there.  But I never want the opposition to go away.  Where's the challenge in that?
Speaking of challenge, I've been puttering away at Thorn III and a few other projects, and I need to be getting back to that.  I just sussed out a pacing/timing issue I was having on Thorn III, so I'm eager to get to the details with that.  See you down in the word mines.

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