Hello Story Empire readers, Gwen with you today and together we’re going to consider the political interests of our characters. This is Part 2 of last month’s post on Religion and Politics. Let’s dive into it.
About a month ago, I watched the movie, A Private War. It is a biopic based on the life of war correspondent Marie Colvin. It haunts me still. She lost an eye and later her life in the embattled areas of the Middle East. It is her beliefs that are relevant to our topic today.
Marie’s friends and colleagues tried to dissuade her from returning to the war-torn areas. She would not listen to them. She believed it essential to be the voice of the people.
“War is not so terrible for governments,” she said in the movie, “for they are not wounded or killed like ordinary people. I feel that we’ve failed if we don’t face what war does, if we don’t face the human horrors and tell people what really happens when all sides try to obscure the truth.”
Marie challenged leaders, provided evidence of massacres, and huddled with the bereft and the inconsolable. She cared about the people – not political parties or regimes.
Most of us have not been in a war zone, but all of us have felt the divisiveness and at times the hate manifested in today’s political environment. It’s so pervasive that we cannot ignore it, and only with great effort can we disconnect from its poison.
What if writers followed Marie’s lead and gave voice to the distress felt by all? What if our fictional characters took opposing sides and then found each other in the middle? What if we explored the human cost of the division and offered a healing resolution to it all?
We are in a war zone of sorts, and though I don’t have answers, I have a few suggestions.
- Humans are political by nature. Some of us identify as conservatives, others of us side with liberals, and many of us are unaffiliated. What we all share is a concern for the greater good. If we can focus on our characters’ struggles to find and serve this common good, we create the possibility of understanding.
- During war, during this war, it’s important to concentrate on the human cost. John Dingell famously said, “War is a failure of diplomacy.” This is a truth we can expose through our characters. We can show how destructive the lack of diplomacy can be, even within a family.
- If we choose to include politics in our stories, it is important to research the various positions. When I wrote my thrillers, I subscribed to five newspapers and multiple military blog sites. As a consequence, I began to see the distortions and how messages are carried throughout the media. If you want to do the same, even simple steps like comparing the news coverage on liberal and conservative TV or radio stations will help. It is likely that you’ll find that truth often resides somewhere in the middle. Perhaps one of our characters could be the voice for our investigations and discoveries.
To conclude, I am deeply moved by Marie Colvin’s response when asked why she wrote about the horrors of war. She said, “I suppose to look back at it and say I cared enough to go to these places and write something that would make someone else care as much about it as I did at the time.”
Incredible, don’t you think?
Thank you for joining me in the murky waters of politics. I’d love to know if you include political themes or issues in your writing. If you do, won’t you please share your recommendations?
Take care and stay well, my friends. I’ll see you once again next month.