Friends — on Medium this afternoon I wrote a short piece on this topic.
I reproduce it here in its entirety.
Why I write about hope
what’s the alternative?
My view of the world tends to be dark. Until recently I loved movies like the Terminator films, and books like Riddley Walker. I just finished watching Ozark, which, as anyone can tell you, is pretty grim, and I am enjoying the tv show Barry, about a hitman who blunders into an acting school in North Hollywood. I am by first inclination a pessimist, but then, I was a weird kid, with an eccentric family. I had few friends, and was untalented in sports, arithmetic, science, and art. What I did have was words. I loved pretending stories that I could act out with my dolls and stuffed animals. With these stories I could imagine places and people very different from the ones that I knew in New York City in the late 50’s and early 60’s. My imagination saved me; through imagining I found hope: hope for more friends, hope for a subject that I could be good at in school, hope for a form of physical activity that didn’t involve throwing and catching a ball or running fast (or running at all). Hope for an art form that didn’t require me to be able to draw. Hope for a family that wasn’t haunted by depression and anxiety. Hope for a version of myself that wasn’t anxious or depressed. Then I, very slowly, took steps to make my hopes take real form. I found amazing friends, I studied French and German, I discovered modern dance and tai chi. I found a therapist.
When we imagine, we open the doors to new possibilities and new realities. I was struck yesterday listening to Senator Chris Murphy observing that “it’s not inevitable” that we continue to have the horrifying mass-shootings that we have. What he was saying in a fancy way is that we need to imagine another set of laws. And that we can. Increasingly, in my own fiction, I imagine characters who want to effect repair. They want to fix things. Even if they don’t know how. I find this to be an entirely reasonable response to a broken society and a broken world. Because you have to imagine it first. Then you can have hope for it, and then you can try to do it.
I can imagine a country where gun ownership is regulated. I hope for it. And I want to do something to help make that hope a reality.
Here are some organizations you can volunteer for and/or give money to: