The greatest satisfaction to me as a writer is touching other souls out there with a bit of knowledge new to them, or with some emotion that warms them or moves them to think a little more deeply about some aspect of life. Or simply provides them with a vicarious escape into adventure or intrigue for a few hours. I keep a nice thick file of e-mails and notes from readers who’ve liked my work.
I sincerely hope my writing will never incite anyone to violence or cause anyone undue distress.
Sadly, I don’t think our modern media has any such reservations, and I wonder if they take any responsibility at all for so often severely slanting the news that violence or despair or depression among many is the tragic result.
When, for example, the beautiful TV talking heads in recent times have harped on single inflammatory phrases such as “unarmed black teenager” over and over and over, without ever telling the whole story, it is little wonder that riots have followed and that police have come under violent attack. Equally dangerous are those TV stories that expose some weakness in our system that could be exploited by terrorists. And the media will jump all over any story about terror incidents, granting the terrorists vast publicity—exactly what they were seeking. Yet the media seem to admit no culpability whatsoever in any of this.
Our words in fiction or in the media have tremendous power to help people. Or to goad them to do wrong.
Those of us who write fictional stories or report on real ones have an unwritten obligation to always take most seriously the potential consequences of our words.