Hey, Writerly Women. I think I would be in false-perky, head-in-the-sand mode if I didn't refer to last week's disturbing events at the Capitol and their reverberations around the world. Not to worry. I'm not opening the door to a political discussion here. I actually only want to make one statement which I think applies to us as remarkable writers:
Words were the catalyst for that attack.
Words that lied. Words that incited violence. Words that fanned unfounded flames.
Many words have been spoken and written since then. Words that have backpedaled. Words that have exposed. Words that have echoed outrage and spoken of conviction.
Whether they've been words that give us real information and hope and positive direction or words that have added fuel to the dangerously irresponsible attitudes and mistaken beliefs ..
Words have landed, and they have landed loud and hard.
Not all, of course. Everybody and her mother has tweeted and Facebooked and TikToked and YouTubed. Many of those posted words have simply reiterated and faded. In my view, the ones that have truly created a vibration have been fresh ones. Intelligently chosen ones. Precise ones.
The statement made by former Vice President Al Gore is a fine example: "Today Americans looked into the abyss created by Donald Trump, and my fervent hope is that even his enablers will now finally draw back in horror."
That gives us a visual -- and a vivid one. We can see ourselves in that picture, and with that seeing comes feeling and, hopefully, a solid urge to act from the truth. That is word-use at its most powerful. It lands.
I am not suggesting that we all try to make image-filled statements about the disturbing events we're seeing. Our written responses have to come from a deep compulsion to speak truth, or they are better left unsaid. What I AM saying is that when we do find ourselves unable to hold back, when we do see a viable opportunity to make a statement that may actually enlighten, we must make sure our words will land.
I'm not usually vocal about my political beliefs. My energies are most often directed elsewhere. But when the very fabric of my country is torn, my hands reach for my keyboard. But only if I think my words will find a place where they will matter. And then only if I can shape those words into a form that will be remembered for as long as it needs to be.
That chance came just a few hours ago. A friend I've known for a long time sent an email to a group of mutual friends urging us to visit sites that are protesting the fact that Twitter and other social media venues are blocking certain people from their sites, saying that such actions are a violation of Free Speech. I thought about it carefully before I responded, because this person's friendship is important to me. But the truth is MORE important, and I know that in the past she has at least listened to me when our opinions differed. So I wrote --
There is freedom in limitation. Otherwise, chaos would reign, just as it did on Capitol Hill. Free speech has its limits, lines that can't be crossed. We seldom see those lines because the space we are allowed in which to express ourselves is so vast. But when social media is used to make threats and incite violence, that is a dangerous step over the line. That is when those limits have to be imposed, or we will all be trampled.
Do with this what you will, beloved women. I'm purposely not inviting you to share what you do write because, again, this is not the forum for political discussion. That would be like opening a discussion about fashion on a sports blog. My example is offered only as a writing sample.
I hope your words, if you write them, land well.