Testy Times All Over



Something’s going on, and it’s not just limited to my immediate sphere of influence.  The recent election in the U.S. has been as contentious as any in recent history. Russia is at loggerheads with its erstwhile satellites of the Warsaw Pact. China, a good faith economic partner with the U.S., is rattling its swords. Even the Philippines is aggravating other countries in the South Pacific. Bob Dylan was offered the Nobel for Literature, and when Bob acted as Bob sometimes does by first not replying to accept and then by politely saying he wasn’t able to be at the presentation due to “other obligations,” it set off a Twitter war.

Everyone needs to take a chill pill, it seems, and that includes me.

We live in the era of the Internet and social media, where it’s all too easy to blow off steam, where conflict can be instant. Just ask Donald J. Trump. As for me, I should abide by the old saw which demands that one count to ten before blowing one’s stack. But Twitter and Facebook are soooo tempting.

I’m a writer, and lately I’ve been lambasting other writers, friends, in fact, who seem all too eager to lambaste back. The thing about writers is we rarely act nasty around family, co-workers, audiences. We attack each other. One reason is that writers live solitary lives. So much of out brainwork lands on the page. We look to others as relief valves for our impassioned leavings, and our first choice is too often other writers. Then when they object to those passions peeping out from our wonderfully wrought phrases, we feel violated.

Some of us look to the future when we write, others revel in the past’s coziness, and yet others project fear and loathing on the present. Some travel to exotic ports, craving their strangeness, seeking to understand, while others hardly ever leave the familiar boundaries of home. We are, after all, just plain people. We tend to think otherwise, and that vanity clears the way for us to delude ourselves, thinking our views of the world are certain, when all that sets us apart is that we’ve learned a craft. Just like plumbers. Beauticians. Auto mechanics. At the end of the day we’re not elite, and neither are our opinions. If anything, we’re a little too full of ourselves.

Writers, let’s let that last thought simmer a while.

When we return to the world, let’s do our best to understand others’ viewpoints, our own biases as well as our totally excellent insights. The world, this testy world, needs that now.





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