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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Truth and Compassion...and Politics

So as the last hurrah of the political week, a prompt to help writers with the idea of truth and compassion over political bipartisanship.  And I promise this is the last you'll have to hear about this for a good, long while.

Prompt- Think of a culture war issue that you feel very strongly about (abortion, gun control, immigration, Israel, state funded birth control, the encroachment of atheism/Christianity...whatever).  Try to pick something you feel the most passionately about.

Now consider a character who is smart, very well educated (both in general and about this issue) who is compassionate, generous, and an overall wonderful human being.

And whose political opinion is exactly the opposite of yours.

Now take a couple of pages to write a stream of consciousness portrayal (so either first person or a very close third) of why they hold that position.  You can't make them stupid, ignorant, bitter, angry, uncompassionate, or anything that would dismiss their position.  You have to take that step into a world where smart, kind, well-intentioned, generous, and well-educated people simply do not agree about everything.

Don't try to make this an intellectual exercise, try to make it an empathy exercise.  REALLY try to walk that mile in their shoes.   Step outside of your paradigm and into someone else's. I hope by the end, you aren't thinking "Whew, glad that's over," but rather "Damn, I never thought of it that way."

Because that is exactly the job of a writer--to take what is right in front of people and make them think about it in a way they never have.

Don't worry that you might be putting "the enemy" in a good light.  Even if you weren't trying to get over that kind of dishonest writing, you are still only responding to this prompt in order to have fun with it.


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