I was considering writing about a feeling that has come over me, as though I think differently from everyone I know and consequently can hardly open my mouth without risking an argument.
While contemplating this predicament, and wondering if this year or era is especially argumentative, if all the warring factions that have either risen or come out of the closet have pushed our society to a new level of interpersonal alienation; if the constant reminders of our differences in gender, race, religion, generation, social class, education and all won’t allow us to consider anyone as simply as a person, meaning they are probably more like than unlike us.
When I was in college, as a literature major, we studied Camus, Sartre, Elliot, Duras and others who tackled the theme of alienation. But though I’m well aware that what I’m feeling is nothing unique or new, I suspect the separation between people has become a sort of disease.
As I reflected upon this gloomy vision, I got inspired to take a look at Ecclesiastes 3:1:
A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
So, I came away thinking, we writers ought to ask and/or pray about, in this particular and mighty peculiar age, what time is it? What should we be doing, writing about, ranting about, keeping silent about, or going to metaphorical war over?
I suspect for each of us the answer will be different. Which is a very good thing. As my mom, a cliche master, asserted regularly, “It takes all kinds to make a world.”
For quite a few years, I wrote feature stories for the San Diego Reader. My editor, Judith Moore may well have been an angel. At least, she was one of the wisest counselors in creation. When a friend of my cousin Patti got accused of Satanic child abuse in the nursery of a large church and his arrest and trial became a local and national media sensation, Judith asked me to write about the controversy. What I learned infuriated me. I became livid about certain attorneys and therapists who either played the case for their own advantage or were astonishingly ignorant. And I wrote the draft of a feature story with that fury impelling me. But Judith, when she read the draft, simply said, “Ken, you don’t do angry.” And she was right, with a caveat: because I didn’t do angry then doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do angry now.
Maybe my time to write angry has come. I will pray about it.