Percy Shelley once wrote: “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”
Let that sink in a bit.
You can substitute “writers” for “poets” and then you realize that the millions of people writing books, blogs, articles, essays, poems, speeches, newsletters, and pamphlets are leading us to think differently, to see the world not just as it was and is but how it could be. Those who write take the courage to put their hearts and talents on the line. They are here so that we can live a better life – one that’s informed, productive, and enlightened. Sometimes they need to anger or humor or challenge us. Other times they pack the bullets that we need to hit our targets.
Writers should be thanked and rewarded. They also should be slapped across the face and be reminded of their obligation to seize the opportunity to lead us. They have a serious platform that can move us in one direction or another. If writers are the legislators of the world then they must step into that role with great care and responsibility.
If writers can convince us of anything, what will it be? How will they do that? What must they overcome to get others to follow their vision?
So many people would love to be published authors, but fall short. Others ho self-publish or get published by a publisher would love to see their book sell well and become an influential force. But what do writers do to achieve such outcomes?
They can’t merely write something, believe it great, and demand the masses discover it and respond as if they agree it’s the best book ever. It doesn’t work that way.
On the other hand, for writers that break through and command sales, awards, and critical praise, what will they do with their newfound success and fame to further important messages?
Writers may entertain, but they aren’t entertainers. They may write fantasies, but they also help us live out realities. They may write about things that don’t exist, but they show us what could. They may question things, and as a result, help lead us to answers to problems we didn’t think even existed.
Yes, writers can be legislators, so they must weigh what agenda they will put forth. The best writers, I think, are fiercely independent, free-thinking, questioners. They assume nothing, question all, and leave themselves room to go in any direction necessary to uncover and then promote the truths that should guide us.
Perhaps the reason people are fed up with partisan politics is that every political discussion is scripted. Rather than have a dialogue to discover new conclusions, we just should stole rhetoric at each other. Too often, each political party holds onto certain core beliefs and is forced to defend them even when things don’t add up. An honest debate or even discussion would allow us to disown baggage that keeps us from finding a reasonable center of agreement.
Authors must not fall into such traps. Fox is a mouthpiece for the right, MSNBC for the left. We can’t live this way. We need a strong middle. Authors mustn’t write books that demonize one side, unless they have real facts to legitimize these allegations. I don’t want to see a book that says gun lovers suck. Where will that get us? If a book could voice both sides of the issue and examine the truthiness of each assertion by some kind of neutral or reasoned standard, we’d move closer to letting the facts guide people. When we passionately say the Second Amendment allows us to carry guns, don’t use that as a mantra, as if we are obligated to buy even more guns. At the same time, one who opposes gun violence can’t just say that guns need to be banned across the board. It’s illegal, unfeasible, and not practical. We need some middle ground, where both sides give and take to meet their goals - to have a safer society and preserve the individual’s right to protect himself.
Books today are leading us, but not the way they did a generation or two ago. When’s the last time someone talked about a book that involved a serious issue? Most talk about hot fiction. If we don’t allow books to launch us into good, meaty debates on major issues, the burden falls to the news media. We see what a poor job the media does when it Kardashianizes the election campaign and how it covers Donald Trump.
Authors must start legislating, and doing so with compassion, intelligence, fairness, and vision. We need leaders more than ever. Can authors step up to the microphone and show us a new path?
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015
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