Sunday, October 4, 2015

Stories that humanize

Out here on the west coast, we are reeling from yet another tragic incidence of mass violence. In our stories, we examine all aspects of the human condition, including the urges and demons that contribute to outbursts of violence.

And we must. Even when tempted to shirk the dark, fiction writers can offer views of our emotions, thoughts, plans, dreams, fears, and hopes that help us all realize the essential truth that holds us together:

We are all human.

I remember studying historical tragedies in high school and college, and reading over and over again that in order to carry out systematic violence, the first step is to dehumanize those at whom the violence is targeted.

Perhaps our most powerful weapon against violence is the stubborn refusal to dehumanize anyone. So, in our stories, let's keep uncovering the humanity in all our characters. (Hey, in sci-fi, even robots and aliens can be humanized.)

Let's tell stories that help us understand one another and ourselves, in all our frailty and glory.

After all, isn't that why our species invented storytelling in the first place?

Elizabeth Fountain writes stories of aliens and angels, and dogs who save the world. Again. You can find out more about her work at her web site, Point No Point.


Cindy said...

I remember reading a quote (paraphrased) All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. That is why I enjoy stories that makes protagonists noble, honorable, beyond good. We need our heroes. Yes, when times are dire we see the purest good hearts of many. Unfortunately, we also see the vile ones as well. Most of us are a mixture of both. Great article, got me thinking.

Liz Fountain said...

Thanks Cindy - I know that quote, too, and try to let it guide my choices. Thanks for reading - and especially, thanks for thinking!