I’ve tried to avoid politics and religion on social media for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it’s not good business. For another, there’s already far too much hatred and divisiveness in this country, and I prefer not to add to it. Perhaps the most important reason, though, is that I want to be judged by my words and actions, not political or religious labels.
But things have changed. We’re in unprecedented times, where the leader of the United States is more concerned about the size of his inauguration crowd than the safety of his people. That simply isn’t acceptable. To me, the matter has nothing to do with politics. The lives of human beings are far more important than the agendas of either party. While there are a lot of uncanny parallels between The McCall Initiative and what’s going on in America today, one in particular stands out for me. The moment when Logan told Piper that with the executive branch in turmoil, Cascadia was at risk from outside forces. You can be certain this holds true for the United States right now.
We’ve reached a point where my reasons for staying silent have been outweighed by my obligation to speak up. This is a crisis situation, and it’s my patriotic duty to do everything in my power to defend the Constitution and prevent the fabric of this country from unraveling any further. However, I believe it’s possible to be true to my values without being disrespectful of yours. I proved that in my last post, where I wrote about a friend who’d spoken out against the Women’s March. When I showed it to her, she embraced my words and shared them with the people who’d argued against her. The two of us wound up in a long Facebook chat, discussing the nuances of our politics. It was amazing, beautiful, and affirming. And yet, she is conservative and I am liberal.
One interesting point that came up in this discussion was that both she and I had been afraid to speak up about our beliefs on social media. For her, it was because many of her friends in the writing world are liberal. For me, it was because many of my readers, family members, and high school friends are conservative. We both felt it was time to stop hiding and be honest. We also agreed it was important to share our beliefs in a loving, respectful, non-confrontational way.
I’ve always been something of a great blue heron—an animal that lives on the brink of two worlds, equally at home in each. When I started racing, I spent half my time in the liberal college atmosphere of Eugene, and the other half in the conservative blue collar speedway community. Not only did I learn a lot about people and life by having a foot in each world, I also learned that no issue is as simple as it seems. I took what l gathered from this experience and weaved it into all my books.
The Full Throttle series naturally attracts a conservative audience due to its stock car racing backdrop. I wrote it to give the world a glimpse of this family-oriented microcosm that so many on the outside have written off as “redneck.” Themes include compassion, forgiveness, grace, and equality, and I think we can all agree these are good values. The trouble is, each side tends to think they have the monopoly on them. This is something I’ve seen time and again on Facebook, Twitter, and the comments left on news sites. Whenever something unpleasant happens, people immediately offer snarky opinions about how the perpetrators obviously must be from the opposing party. After all, all those people are evil and stupid, right?
Wrong. Here’s the bottom line. Conservatives love my books. Liberals love my books. They love them for the same reasons. That means all these people have something in common: a deep core of compassion. So why can’t we focus on that? Why can’t we be like my friend and me, earnestly comparing and contrasting what we believe—loving and supporting each other implicitly, despite knowing that at some point, we will vote in opposite ways? Respecting each other doesn’t mean deserting our values. Respecting each other means we refuse to abandon human decency and civil discourse, despite the fact that we will at times be working in opposition to each other.
So, yes, it’s time for me to start speaking up on occasion. I want the opportunity to explain the reasoning behind my stances. I want the freedom to talk about the world in general without having to worry about stripping out every hint of my political leanings.
My readers will have the advantage of knowing my heart. A writer can’t help but have its contents spill out onto the pages. In all my books, there is a thread of open-mindedness and compassion—a “why can’t we all just get along” sort of theme. I think, just from knowing my characters, you’ll realize that at my core, I’m all about reaching out, being fair, and listening to everyone, no matter their label.
Moving forward, when I address political topics, respect and empathy will always be at the forefront, and underlying that, the deep-rooted conviction that we are more alike than we are different. In addition, I’ll be as likely to call out liberals as conservatives, because along with resisting Trump’s agenda, I intend to educate people on the art of effective, respectful political discourse. If you’re politically opposed to me and can’t accept this, I’m fine with us parting ways. But I hope you’ll stick around. I think my books offer proof that what I have to share can help us all understand each other a little better.
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