Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Doubt and the Human Spirit

I realize that, most of the time, when I write things with the purpose of changing people's minds, that I will fail. Those who like what I have to say will praise me; those who don't will generally ignore me. I'm just not very influential.

But, at the same time, if I didn't want to have an effect, I would just keep my writing bound to a journal. Why put it up online? Why publish? Clearly, I want (need?) to affect people in some way.

If my hopes are too high, I am bound for disappointment. (And they are always too high.) In a way, now that I think about it, having really high hopes as a writer pretty much amounts to narcissism. To hope is to assume that I have something worthwhile to say. Who, exactly, do I think I am?

I think, though, that I have found a realistic, non-conceited, practical goal as a writer -- as a teacher, even. I think a worthy goal is to just try to make people less sure of themselves; to make them doubt their hardened concepts...

It seems to me that doubt, to the human spirit, is as water to the plant.

Too many people are too sure of themselves. Only two results can come of two groups of people who are completely sure of themselves: dangerous clashes or turned backs.

But I'm tired. Whatever the reason for having tried so hard to affect people -- vanity or altruism -- it has made me very tired. I feel like like Jem, after having seen the racism in his town. He says this to, Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird:

"Scout, I'm beginning to understand something. I think I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in the house all this time... it's because he wants to stay inside."

I'd better either shut up about things and go all Boo Radley or keep my expectations low. At the very least, "affects" and "effects" aside, maybe I could just introduce a little beauty, from time to time, in a very, very ugly world. The human spirit can be such a light. Just lift away the shade and it can chase off a deed-dark forest full of demons...

But the shade does need to be lifted. Another worthy goal. I hope. 

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