How many times have we heard this phrase? Or, the phrase, "truth is stranger than fiction?"
Well, recent events in Arizona have surely captured the interest of many people and I'm sure a number of writers out there are studying this event closely to understand how anybody could do what the individual in Arizona did. (I don't even want to mention his name as I abhor putting someone like this in the limelight, therefore, in some bizarre way for him, rewarding him for his bad behavior.)
Writers of mysteries and thrillers who have to develop their characters - especially the ones who are the bad, and really bad guys - go through a process of trying to understand what makes them tick and do the things they do. They try to "get into their heads" and often it's a very scary place to go. And, sometimes we think that people won't believe that anyone can do something as horrendous as what the individual in Arizona did, and therefore are characters are often descriped as unbelievable.
Of course, there's also all of the posturing from both sides of the gun control issue on what caused this individual to do what he did and how much we should change not only how someone acquires weapons but also the words that we use as weapons.
Ah, words as weapons! Can words really be that powerful?
For writers the answer is yes. Words are what we live by, it's the way we communicate our stories to our readers. Finding that exact word or turn of a phrase that lets others know what we're trying to communicate is exhilarating for writers. For most of us, however, we want our audience to walk away at the end of our story feeling motivated and entertained by the words we put to paper, not enraged.
Some of the pundits on the airwaves and in politics I fear are motivated more by power and greed and not what is best for their audiences or people in general. In fact, pundits on the air tend to make a hell of a lot more money than the vast majority of writers. This begs the question of how much audiences are supporting and encouraging words being used as weapons and hate mongering. It's definitely food for thought.
For me, a significant "take-away" from the Arizona tragedy is that we all have to be responsible for whichever weapon we use and how we relate to others. It's the responsibility of all of us to make the world a better and safer place. How each of us wants to do it seems to be at odds and the end result is sometimes tragic. I hope we can all begin to talk to each other more responsibily and actually have a dilogue, not a shouting match, on how to resolve our differences and move forward.
This is a great New Year's resolution for all of us to have.