What a week it’s been.
My old dog is dead. He died where he spent most of his time the last sixteen years, under my desk, as close as possible to me, preferably touching. I sat with him and petted his soft ears as death took him. It’s always hard, and I honestly think your cup of coping is like your cup of courage. Finite. I know I face the same with sister soon. Well, you might say a bit of my Puggle lives on in the books I wrote with him there. A man can learn a lot about unconditional love and trust from a dog. Hopefully he learns it is something that must be repaid in kind, to the very best of your ability. I must admit I do judge people by how they relate to animals in their care. I try to cut everyone a bit of slack at first, but that’s a touchstone for me.
It’s been interesting times in the US political race too, and I think most people are sick to death of it all and are wondering whether we misunderstood the Mayan calendar. Maybe it was 2016 they meant not 2012. I’m not American, who US citizens choose to elect is their business. I’m just a bloke writing sf and fantasy, and well aware that writers, and actors, and celebrities are actually, despite delusions we have to the contrary, pretty much what Douglas Adams called B Ark people. Yes we ‘make’ stories – and the world would be a less pleasant place without them, but, well, trust me, as a starving author, you can’t eat words. You can do without (with much regret) a movie or book, for longer than without working plumbing or food or water. Come to think of it, B Ark people also thought themselves the vital part of society, and didn’t hesitate to tell you so, and what to think etc. Look, occasionally writers or script-writers set trends. But mostly our output is more like a somewhat time-lagged reflection of our social peer group’s values. I read my various writer friends and peers on politics… and think maybe I should get out a bit more, and so should they.
I was on ambulance service call today (which is definitely NOT a B Ark task – and volunteering for these sort of tasks has always helped me to deal with reality and perspective.) Unfortunately it chewed a large hole into my writing time (both for this and my daily work-count, and the Createspace prep I’m doing and the Rats, Bats and Vats short I was putting into HTML for the mailing list). A couple of calls today, and every second of that time well spent, as far as I am concerned. I don’t think my books keep people alive – that just might. However: it has left me a long way behind. So forgive this being shorter and probably more chaotic than usual.
One of the things I love about the Ambulance service is that it is the total antithesis of the Puppy-kickers. We don’t care whether you’re well connected to the who’s-who of Traditional publishing or hated by everyone. We don’t care what your political ideology is. We don’t care if you’re not politically correct – or are. We don’t care what race or sex or orientation you are. We don’t care if you’re rich or poor. We don’t care who you kissed up to or joined in the witch hunt for. We just help people who need it right then. And while you do get entitled and abusive jerks, drugged, drunk or violent jackasses, and those who think they deserve special care, most people respect and appreciate what you’re doing – which is the best you can do, no matter who or what their circumstances.
But I do recall what happened in South Africa when some unpleasant, venal minds figured that ambulances would go where they were called to help – and that included the large black townships… where such soft targets were rare. So they took to calling out the ambos – robbing them, sometimes killing them, and stealing the vehicles. A lucrative, easy victim that came to you. What a win for them… today.
This had a terrible effect – the ambulance services stopped their personnel going into these areas or taking vehicles in. If you needed an ambulance and lived there… well, hopefully you had a family or friends who could get you out. The ambulance would come to a safe point (usually where they protected by armed police) but no further. There is no doubt that the shortsighted opportunism of that handful of criminals – and people who did nothing, resulted in many un-necessary deaths and a lot of suffering – even of friends and relations of the criminals, as well as innocents who had nothing to do with it all.
Those who stole the ambulances and beat up and robbed and killed the ambulance officers saw their own short-term gain only, and never looked beyond that, to the future or a wider society. They and those who were silent, afraid or uncaring, thought that trust and goodwill was an endless resource. They never thought the ambulances would stop responding. After their particular crime the next call would be a real one, and it would be evil for those people not to respond, wouldn’t it?
I’ve seen an oddly similar in this US electoral campaign with multinational business, the mass media, the leading lights of Hollywood and the music world and international political figures – all weighing in on one side. I’ve seen many of my writing peers join them, and precious few outside Vox Day speak in support of the other side. Curiously, Katy Kay – BBC reporter, and very much a part of that monolithic one-sided reportage commented on her surprise at finding the Trump supporters at the rallies she attended to be well-dressed, middle-class and not nasty… yet you’d never think it reading the media in general. Like all things there is probably a mix – but odds are good that a lot of Ark A and Ark C people have been attacked viciously and unfairly for merely having different opinions and politics.
Now it’s not my election, not my place to choose ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ sides – but one thing that has been clear to me: despite the huge weight of the above on one side – the other side is not crushed or small. The more those with the levers of power do, the more angry and determined the other side become. The divergence has become wider, deeper and nastier. (And oddly saying ‘it is so-and-so’s fault’ actually makes it worse, not better). Even under this weight at least 40% by my guess of the electorate still rebel. That’s not trivial. The bad news is that those are generally not B Ark people.
And in a little while it’ll all be over. The election will be over.
And the assumption from all those authors, all those entertainers, all those news-sites, all those actors, those businesses… is that the next ambulance will come when they need it. That all will be forgotten and forgiven.
I don’t know who will win: not my business to support either side in the politics of sovereign foreign (to me) country. But I am willing to bet that all will not be forgotten and forgiven. Just as the puppy-kickers thought it would all be over, and their foes could be de-platformed, and that the silence thus gained equaled support. That didn’t work, and I don’t think that the two sides in this far larger battle will acknowledge a victor and merge into one again either. I think this fight is just beginning. I think the established mass media will be the biggest losers, with the alternate media publishers taking the income from the embittered sector of the population the mass media have cheerfully slandered to try to win this short-term victory. Entertainers – including authors – are next on the hurt list – which will be harsh on those who took the establishment side, and still rough on those caught between both sides. There are others who will take their place and other platforms will spring up. And multinational business who assume they can skate… will discover they still need Ark A & C to buy their products.
Not an easy place for writers. We’re B Ark people, and we need A&C people, as little as we may like to admit it.