As we wallow through the political conventions (Republican this week, Democratic last week), I find myself thinking about our role as writers, and to what extent we practice spirituality in our craft.
I can’t define spirituality for you (maybe not even for myself). It has something to do with a deep connectedness, compassion for others, a generous spirit, a search for meaning, a willingness to serve as well as lead.
Does our writing reflect that?
Do we try to have a positive influence on our community? Whether we might vote for Obama or McCain, do we gather in the shade and water the roots of the Common Good, a venerable old tree that’s been buffeted and bashed like a live oak in New Orleans?
I might want to encourage truth, as in “telling truth to power.” But truth is hard to find, let alone tell. And too often, it’s told to those in power, by those out of power . . . in a woefully slanted fashion, just to grab some power for ourselves.
Better, as writers, to help to keep channels of communication open. To observe and contribute ideas. To look for ways to connect, not divide.
As a student of the literary genre of fantasy, watching the conventions, I feel that political rhetoric tends more to that tradition than to nonfiction. It’s more often wishful thinking and fanciful construct than truth.
And in many ways, truth (even Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness”) is over-rated in talking about the common good.
More important? The aspects of spirituality I mentioned: compassion, generosity, connectedness, meaning, service.
Dorothy Day, Catholic activist for the poor and working classes, said:
I believe that we must reach our brother, never toning down our fundamental oppositions, but meeting him when he asks to be met, with a reason for the faith that is in us, as well as with a loving sympathy. . . .
She also said: “We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community.”
Be the change you want to see in the world.
For writers, perhaps that means crafting words that bring us closer together, to nod and smile, to hold hands and breathe the same air, and to share a delight in the wonder of the world with everyone.