It’s true. While much of the population can beat about the bush as far as moral dilemmas and controversies go (though it’s annoying when they do that, I’d rather be attacked ferociously by a troll than see an insipid someone who goes mmm-hmm and tries to agree with everyone on everything!), we of the storytelling subculture must take sides on controversy and then fight our viewpoint.
Why? The answer is wholly expedient… (And also advocated by Saint Paul…) In two words: Lukewarm books.
No one wants to read a lurid story where no one takes a stand for what they believe in, where everyone breaks their moral codes every three seconds, where there are only shades of gray and no black and white whatsoever. Though I admit that it’s difficult to write a good story without gray shades (not without sounding preachy and being too-sweetly allegorical, which I abjure right along with Tolkien, applicability for the win! WHOO!), it also makes no sense for people not to take sides. If people didn’t take sides, there wouldn’t be a conflict.
And as such, the author must take sides, too. An author must write the right and wrong into the story, and to write right and wrong, the author must at least temporarily believe in right and wrong. (I’m all for permanency, myself.)
Though in real life, people who speak out are either told to shut up or are ignored, in fiction people love ’em. Characters who take a stand are characters with charisma, characters who can be leaders. Characters who will carry away the reader with them.
This post has a bonus; a few short notes on standing up for your beliefs and rights in real life. First of all, the most important rule on standing up: It’s okay to be angry and outraged over a severe issue; this is called righteous anger. But while you’re protesting the issue, control it, and definitely don’t show it. People listen to calm and steadfast speaking-out; anger only provokes more anger. (This is true in every context, by the way.)
Second, if you’re speaking out about a controversial topic, one that “nice” (aka tepid and dissembling) people don’t mention in polite conversation, you will most likely be ignored, or blushed at and then ignored. If you’re in the right, people are likely to get angry when you impinge on their comfort zone, so if you see anger, it most likely means that either you’re being obnoxious (which is a big no-no,) or you’re doing something right. So what do the entrenched-in-error people do? They hide their anger so you can’t see that you are doing something right.
Third, you don’t want to go for ad hominem attacks. An ad hominem attack is, basically, attacking someone’s character, rather than respectfully disagreeing with them. This is the worst possible way to go about changing people’s minds, which is basically what you’re trying to do. Forget about politics–this is about people you know every day! This is grassroots. Eventually it’ll get into politics. Change comes about slowly, whatever the current presidential administration may say. (Madame LaFarge makes her point well in A Tale of Two Cities. I rest my case.) So don’t attack people! (You may notice I just made a joke about the continuing goals of the Obama administration, making fun of their plans rather than them directly. This is called Republican humor, and might be taken as an ad hominem attack by oversensitive, besotted liberals… who, sadly, do actually exist… *sob*… 😛 … but it really isn’t. I just humorously disagreed with their goals and ideas, I said nothing about the administration’s actual members, themselves. It may be “off-color humor,” but you’ve got to admit, it isn’t mean humor.) Also, if you libel celebrities, it’s a surefire way to start a war, and that is NOT WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO DO.
Fourth, if people do get angry over what you’re saying, when they stalk off in a huff, call cheerily after them, “Thanks for the discussion! It was AWESOME!”, “God bless you!”, “Have a great day!” or equivalent. It confuses people, and it’s FUN. It’s called heaping coals of fire on their heads, and it changes minds. It’s also a naughty pleasure for impish Christians.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this post, my mischievousness, my bad political jokes, and whatever else in here that was funny (I probably didn’t intend the last category as humor, but who cares?!) Mark Twain rules. (If you got the Dickens and Twain references in this post, I will love you FOREVAR.)
Thanks for reading, and God Bless! (see what I did there? X-P)