We have a polarized Congress, right?  C’mon, there really is no way else to describe it! Polarized. As in, “I see my point of view and not yours,” and “I view the world this way and don’t put a serious earnest effort into viewing the world your way.” In other words, I don’t bother with anyone else’s point of view, or POV, as we writers call it.

Congress writes their national and local dialogue in the first person only.  Never third person; never multiple viewpoints; never the ambiguous joy of putting oneself in the shoes of a character we really don’t get at all…and then actually getting that person, simply from the effort of writing in his or her POV.

This is not a political rant, mostly because if I engage in that right now then I will simply polarize my readers.

I don’t even choose to discuss the political divide engulfing my beloved country, at least not now. 

So I won’t comment on the caricatures, bitterness, and defensiveness that emanate from our elected leaders when dealing with the other side of the aisle—except I just did, huh? Commented on it.  What I mean is this: I’d like to make a small suggestion.

Congress, try writing fiction.  Just sit down at a computer or a notebook.  Choose a locale, choose a main character who wants to achieve something but has an obstacle (like, for example, running a country but can’t play nicely with one’s colleagues?).  Then write a section of the story from the viewpoint of one of those godforsaken colleagues, to take my example. Pretend you’re in his or her skin.  Think those thoughts. Notice what that character would notice. Feel the real feelings he or she might feel.  Zoom in close and hear the internal dialogue, the hopes, the fears, and the justifications (conscious or otherwise). Make each character fallible and human and with a personality and some kind of history and habits, good and bad. Make even the “bad guys” feel good inside, at least in part, because most people find a way to accept or forgive or excuse themselves.

Who cares what actually happens in the story? Yes, plot is critical and in the story of our dear Congress, what happens with the obstacles does in fact matter.  But this is just an exercise, remember?  Just a hobby that any public official can practice while sitting in interminable meetings or planning that love affair, or voting against something.

Write fiction and get close to your enemy…and maybe that enemy will look, well, a little more attractive.

Or not. 

At least you tried.  Maybe the whole country will benefit.

 

Comments

Ted Olson January 21, 2014 @09:20 pm
 

Wonderfully put. You wrote what I've felt for months. Perhaps one of the deeper values of fiction is jumping into the socks of someone whose perspective is far different than our own. Thanks!

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