Thursday, December 29, 2005

This will Be My First and Last Political Post

When I started this blog in 1953, I promised myself I wouldn't post anything political. There are some great blogs who cover this stuff better than I can. I recommend First Draft and TPM. You can see their links over there.

But I can't do this any more. I've been outraged since 1968 and I'm not only tired, I'm losing friends. Christmas night an army buddy called and the Christmas cheer quickly swirled down the drain and I found myself on Christmas night yelling into the phone about labor, health care and that dead alcoholic, Joe McCarthy. My friend hung up and followed with an email that said I was now his enemy. That's right. His enemy. And I felt like shit.

I'm trying to wean myself from this divisive bullshit. For those of you who live elsewhere, count your blessings. Things are ugly here in the USA, with a surprising number of people eager to declare war on their friends and neighbors.

So, this will be the last time I post anything political. At least for 2005.

Next year, we'll talk about true stories that are too good to use, real people versus real characters, comforting agents and agents who are Rotweillers, crappy freelance copy editors and other things related to writing. I promise.

In the meantime, if you've had any fallouts with friends or family over politics, feel free to vent here. It seems to be going around.


Jim Winter said...

Just before the 2004 election, my dad and I got into several heated arguments over Bush. He was pro; I... Well, I'm glad he's not Dick Cheney. Anyway, one phone call ended with me slamming the phone down, my hands shaking.

And then I thought about that. We'd just lost my mother almost two years earlier, and no president is worth losing your father over.

So I went to see him over Labor Day that year and made it a point to avoid politics. It was probably the happiest weekend I'd spent with my dad since Mom died.

He died two weeks later of a sudden heart attack.

I don't care who you are. Politics are never worth destroying friendships and families over. And if someone thinks it is, you need new friends anyway.

JD Rhoades said...

Jim: I write a column for my local newspaper. As you might imagine, it's fairly liberal in outlook. For a while, my wife also wrote her own liberal op-ed pieces for the paper.

One week my father wrote a letter to the paper--which the paper published--telling the world that he didn't want to be associated with either of us anymore.

I took him up on it. We didn't speak for a year after that. We finally reconciled once he was diagnosed with prostate cancer (which he beat, thank whatever gods there be).

I'll agree in principle that politics are never worth destroying friendships and families over.

But what do you do when it's your family that insists on forcing the issue? How much shit do you have to swallow in the name of family harmony? And at what point do you have to show family members that their own nasty words have consequnces?

Olen Steinhauer said...

In a political conversation, there's usually one who wants to escallate. (Rarely, both want it, in which case there's no hope.) I'm seldom the escallator, but the moderator. Not that I decide to agree, I just decide to put my emotions aside and listen and see if what they're saying makes sense, then work from there--if I see a flaw, I deal with it as calmly as possible. Both the stories above are showing something beyond what I've had to face, luckily (perhaps) for me.

But sliding to the side a little, the whole political situation makes me wonder at times about the use of my own blog-posts. I mean, who cares about plot v. character when the newspaper reads like a horror show? My only justification is so abstract: good fiction makes people more human. If you learn to write well, and thus make your readers more emotionally rounded mensches, then they'll make better voters and policy-makers. But it feels like tearing down the Great Wall of China with a teaspoon.

David Terrenoire said...

I made the decision not to post political stuff because I've come to the conclusion that it's all blather. You walk into the grocery aisle and find three thousand choices of breakfast cereal, but every four years we get only two choices for president.

I'm at the point where I don't see anything getting better and all my reading and working to understand what's happening in the world does no one any good, least of all me. To answer your question, Olen, I'd be better off studying character, running scales, cleaning the house or walking the dogs. Those are things I can control. (Well, maybe not the dogs.) In 2006, I'm going to let the world sort things out without me. I'm tired of being angry. Of course, I said the same thing this time last year.

I play blues behind a woman who is a hard rightwinger. I didn't realize how hard right until we started talking about politics at a recent party. It started getting ugly and I said, "This won't work. We can't talk politics." So we choose to avoid the subject and we get along wonderfully.

I wish I had been that smart on Christmas night.

Stephen D. Rogers said...

When trapped in a conversation with someone trying to convert me to different political views, I disengage and listen as a writer trying to understand how to illustrate character.

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