2016-10-09

People

Update
Peacekeeper Pathogen is up to 39,729 words as of this morning. I've solved the major plot snag and I'm moving along. I did have another snag last night but it was more about how to word something I needed to say than an actual plot issue. The best way (for myself anyway) is to forget about it, think about it as I'm going to sleep, and, usually, the solution appears in the morning. My brain did not let me down and I will be rolling along again as soon as this post is finished.

My heart and prayers go out to those caught in the path of Hurricane Matthew. My wife's cousin lives on one of the barrier islands off the Georgia coast and he posted a Facebook video after the storm passed. He's head of maintenance at an elderly community and had to remain because many of the residents could/would not leave. His area sustained only minor damage.

My brother lives in Virginia Beach. He called after I had gone to bed last night and said the water in his house was at 3 feet and rising. I'll be watching the news for a bit this morning as soon as this is posted to see what The Weather Channel has to say.

People
Years ago, I used to watch the news every night. There was even a time when I read the newspaper a few times a week. But being constantly barraged with how horrible humans can be to each other caused me to abandon that practice. Today, I catch an occasional news article or hear a conversation now and again that I then look up on the internet. But instead of getting better, it seems as if our species is getting worse. It's depressing.

I will be the first to admit that I am a privileged white man. But that does not give me the right to act that way. Yesterday, the writer's group I attend diverted from the discussion of our various writing projects to a discussion revolving around race relations--specifically, the problem between our police and those who are not white. I am well-aware that this is a problem and I am also aware that there are those who insist on trying to use this issue to create a larger divide between people. Instead of trying to be part of the solution, there are those from both sides who use an incident as an excuse for doing violent acts.

As a science fiction writer, I live in a fantasy world where humans and aliens interact with one another in a peaceful society. Imagine how different an alien culture would be from our own! If we can't get along with our own species, how are we going to get along with a culture from another planet? I believe there are aliens out there. I think they may be aware of our existence. And I'm positive that if that's true, they are unwilling to make contact with us because they know how they would be treated.

Ignorance is something we should all be aware of and be willing to change. Allow me a moment to explain exactly what I mean by this. This is only an example and is not meant to be offensive. Let's say I grew up learning that all Native Americans greeted each other by raising their hand and saying "How" and I was taught that all women Native Americans were referred to as squaws. This could come from my parents, history books, television shows, or even role-playing while growing up. Now, imagine I find myself in a job where I need to interact with Native Americans for the first time. It could be a disaster or a learning experience depending on how I and those I interact with react to my ignorance.

My first reaction would be that the person I'm meeting does not look like what I think an 'Indian' should look like. Thinking I'm being respectful of their culture, I greet this person by raising my hand and saying "How". In an ideal situation, it should be calmly explained to me that my greeting was considered rude. My proper response would be to admit I'd never met a Native American before and to apologize. I would then learn from this and never do it again. I would then begin to question everything I thought I knew about their culture. The incident would de-escalate and life would be better.

On the other hand, things could get very ugly. I could instantly be labeled as a racist and the interview terminated. I would most likely have no clue what I had done wrong and my beliefs regarding the culture of Native Americans would not change. My attempts to apologize could be viewed as stalking or harassment. I could be physically attacked and verbally abused causing me to believe that all Native Americans are intolerant. Labels would be applied by both sides and it could take years before the problem was resolved.

I could also react to a gentle admonishment by rejecting the person's attempt to correct me. Instead of recognizing my own ignorance, I would try to force my own cultural beliefs on others. To understand our differences, both sides must be willing to at least try to educate the other. Ignorance is something that can be corrected as long as it is recognized as such. If I unintentionally offend anyone, I would want that person to correct me so I can learn. Intentionally offending another person is a sign of a mental disorder and such people should be put in their place.

Time to check the news, eat breakfast, and get back to writing.