Friday, April 5, 2013

The Frustrated Idealist

I was recently asked in an interview if I was trying to simply entertain or deliver a message.  I had to think about that.  I’ve always liked stories that entertain while making me think and I’ve tried to follow that template when writing Procythian Reign.  All the King’s Men and Animal Farm are two of my favorite works, so it’s likely no surprise that my writing takes a darker view of human nature.

People fascinate me.  Mankind could accomplish anything he set his mind to doing, yet we have a polluted planet and spend trillions on weapons to kill each other while most of our citizens struggle to provide basic health care for themselves and their family.  I’m not bashing the military.  My last post should tell you what I think of our soldiers.

But are we going to learn from these tragedies?  Do we really want to?  Will the day arrive when we leave our planet an uninhabitable nuclear wasteland after a few hours of white-hot bloodletting?  How much longer will we kill each other over whom we choose to worship or love?  Will petty jealousies continue to rip us apart forever, or will the day arrive when we recognize that we have so many more similarities than differences?

I think about these things and try to understand.  It can make you crazy, but (for me) that might not be such a long trip.  I suppose it’s fair to say that we all have a darker side that we don’t want to acknowledge.  I suspect that’s why people slow down and watch at traffic accidents and why violence is so prevalent in our media. 

Maybe washing the baser instincts out of a race comprised of billions is just too daunting.  Perhaps our bad habits are perpetuated by a sort of natural selection.  How can we ever really stop our “evil” ways when they are the very instincts that protect us from the bullies of the world?  It’s pretty hard to leave the door open when we know there are wolves in the yard. 

It looks like the lowest common denominator will always keep us from reaching a level of enlightenment that we see in Star Trek or other Utopian fantasies.  It will for my lifetime.  I’m pretty sure of that.

I think that’s some of the spirit I’m trying to catch in Procythian Reign.  I try to make the people and their politics real.  As a writer, I try not to take sides.  I respect the honor and genius of men like Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jackson and Erwin Rommel.  Do I mourn for their causes?  No.

It is interesting, however, to realize that good men stand opposite each other in all of humanity’s conflicts, violent or not.  Not all are good men, but they’re there (good and bad) on all sides.  I didn’t write Procythian Reign to preach a vision or an idea, but it isn’t going to hurt my feelings if it makes you think a little, either.  My favorite writers have always made me think.  I would be honored to do the same for others. 

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