Friday, March 9, 2012

Last time, Elizabeth wrote about her struggles with censorship and with senseorship (and no, they aren’t the same thing, and it wasn’t just a typo – ask her and find out!). Her post really resonated with me. So much so that the lovely post I had planned to write on starting a new novel has gone on the back burner. All I’ve been able to think about since reading her post is how much do politics belong in our professional lives?
            Now, this isn’t a new question. Authors have asked themselves this for years, I’m sure. Only now, with the advent of social media, we have greater exposure than ever. Our readers can know more about us, faster, than ever before. Plus, it seems every day there is another opportunity to share this, or to like that.
            Do these opportunities change our obligations and responsibilities? What if what we like is unpopular? Or something we don’t like is popular? If we speak out about something, will there be fallout? If we don’t speak out about something, does that imply we condone it? What if we just don’t give a damn? Do we owe it to our readers to let them know where we stand? Do they even care?
            It’s an election year – and a messy one at that. The country is incredibly divided. As the campaign continues, there are going to be more and more opportunities to speak out, to like or unfriend, to share or delete. To talk about our personal opinions in the midst of our professional lives. What’s our responsibility? Where are our obligations?
            There are no easy answers, and I certainly don’t have one. But, as Elizabeth said in her post, I think these are questions worth asking, and conversations worth having. So…what do you think?
---Pauline Trent


Lynn Lovegreen said...

Good thoughts to consider on this and the previous post. Some writers avoid politics and personal opinion, some expound on them. I'm still pondering my own position. Alaskan poet John Haines thought it was important to address political issues; see an interview with him that touches on this in "Artful Dodge:" at

Pauline Trent said...

Lynn ~ I think a good many of us are still pondering, so you are certainly not alone. My problem is I can see both sides of it. In many ways, I agree with Haines. In many other ways, I want to look at artists who are heavily political and tell them to please, stop talking, I don't really care what you think.

Denny said...

I see the merits in both and can respect why a person, a writer, an artist, would or would not share their personal/political/social opinions.

On the one hand, I think there are a lot of people out there who should simply do the world a favor and not speak. And then there are those who I disagree with but I respect their perspective and their intent.

There are also those who have done a lot of good being outspoken.

As a marginalized author, unfortunately I often find myself in positions of speaking out against social injustice out of necessity and even survival. As I mentioned to someone else last week what to them might be abstract political ideologies or spirited debate determines who I can marry if I can sit at the front of the bus or if I'm allowed to enter the military.

And while being outspoken does often result in me garnering a lot of heat, I've also seen it do some good for other marginalized people.

At least that's been my experience.

Pauline Trent said...

Denny ~ Thank you for the comment. This is part of why I believe this is an important conversation to have - so that those of us who aren't as marginalized can be aware of the good that speaking out and bringing our personal beliefs into our professional lives might do.

Barbara S. Andrews said...

Until a year ago, I tried to ignore politics too, mistakenly believing that things even out after awhile, no matter what party is in charge.

But when I found myself--as a public worker--attacked and became aware of what was REALLY happening--and not just in our state--I found I had no choice but to take sides.

Because it's not just about union rights and taxes and national debt. It's about voting rights, women's rights, and freedom of religion. It's about people in power bragging about their ability to bully the poor and downtrodden. It's about racism and name-calling and frankly, ugliness that I thought never to see in my own country.

And I had to come to terms with the fact that I can no longer afford the luxury of ignoring political events. Because democracy doesn't work if citizens do that. We all have to make a choice, and ignorance is in itself a choice.

Until last year, I was content to choose ignorance. No longer. My eyes are wide open now, and I can't ever go back.