Monday, November 05, 2012
All you want to do is ignore the shouting from the TV and radio and internet, curl up with a good book, and wait for it to be over.
I understand the need for escape, and how beautifully books can provide it, for both readers and writers. I don't know how I would have survived the last few months had I not had Zachary and David to pour my sorrow into. When the real world is a "vale of tears," books can comfort and distract. When real life is absurd and insane, books provide order and logic. (As Tom Clancy once said, "The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.")
But tomorrow is Election Day. Time to get real.
America faces stark choices, not just in the presidential election, but in Congressional races and ballot questions. Real people's lives will get better or worse based on the outcomes. And unlike fictional characters, real people have no author to untangle their problems and give them a happily ever after.
The cool thing about readers? Neuroscience tells us that you are more empathetic and socially intelligent than non-readers. Putting yourself in the place of a character who is unlike you (and since we are all individuals, every character is unlike you) gives you the ability to understand different points of view and feel the pain and joy of others more than non-readers do.
This is why I think readers rock. Not because you allow me to make a living doing what I love or because you fill my inbox/tweet stream/Facebook wall with compliments (though I am incredibly grateful for both). Readers rock because you get the world.
The question is, what are you going to do with this understanding? Will you lend it only to those who exist between pages? Or will you extend it to those who walk and talk in our world, who cry real tears, breathe real air, and bleed real blood?
I'm asking you, for one day: put down that book and pick up a ballot. Thanks.