2018-02-18

Editing and revising

I have started another editing pass on Collision Course and I believe I have a plan to address some of the issues identified by Lee Dilkie, my content editor. I might not be able to address all of his concerns, but I can at least fix a few of them. Collision Course is a unique book as it's a mixture of science fiction with a hefty splash of fantasy. The fusion is hard to do correctly. After this second editing pass, the book will be in the hands of my wife who will check it for grammatical errors. If all goes well, it will be available for publication sometime in May.

While I was thinking about how to fix the story, I was continuing my studies of JavaScript. I've been reading a massive book titled JavaScript: The Definitive Reference. I've finally gotten to the point in the book where the author is talking about JQuery. I've known for some time that JQuery is a powerful library for JavaScript and I've always planned on making use of it. I now know just how useful it can be and I will most definitely be re-writing my website using this powerful tool.

As a long-time professional programmer, I also realize there are standards and best practices that have become part of the language. Even though it is possible to write code that works, that does not necessarily mean you've written the most professional looking code possible. I reached out to a JavaScript programmer and received some good feedback on my coding. As in my writing, I have no problem with receiving constructive feedback from people concerning how I do things. That's how people learn.

There's a huge difference though between constructive feedback that's meant to teach and destructive feedback which is little more than ranting and raving. For example; Say a reader believes an author's character development is a bit weak. The overall story, though, is a good one. A proper feedback would point this out and provide some constructive feedback such as "I would have liked to have gotten to know Mary a bit better". Another reader might just say "The character development in this novel is terrible". A writer can learn from the first but will disregard the second as being offensive.

This sort of constructive feedback applies to all aspects of our lives as well. The problem is, people become offended and their first reaction is to lash out at the person who offended them because they feel that person is being deliberately offensive. In some cases, this is probably true and such people should be ignored. They are doing it to provoke a fight and will not listen to constructive feedback. In many cases, however, the person might not realize he or she is being offensive. This can be due to the person's cultural background or simply a lack of knowledge.

A recent example was the use of a Christian cross to honor the students killed in the recent Florida school shooting. Many of the students were Jewish and the use of the cross is considered offensive in the Jewish community. I'm sure the people who placed those crosses were not trying to be offensive. The reactions from some members of the Jewish community, however, were swift and damning. They blasted the crosses and condemned those who placed them there. This doesn't help solve the problem!

The correct response would be to point out that the use of a cross was offensive and politely ask that they be removed. Those who placed the crosses should apologize and then immediately respond to correct their error. They should then take the opportunity to understand why the cross is considered offensive so they don't repeat their error. Ignorance can't be helped because nobody can know everything. But when ignorance is pointed out, it should be taken as an opportunity to learn. Ignorance has become a bad word and it should probably be replaced with something with fewer negative emotions attached to it such as "lack of knowledge".

Humans are a diverse people with thousands of different cultures. It is not possible for a single person to know everything that everyone will consider as being offensive. If you're visiting China and someone gives you the middle finger, don't explode and start flinging a string of four-letter words back at them. In China, the middle finger is used to point because pointing with your index finger is highly offensive.

Humans need to become more aware of the fact that not everything everyone does that's offensive to one person is done in an effort to actually cause offense. They might just not know any better. Politely correct them. If they refuse to learn, then they are being offensive on purpose and then it's okay to lambast them. Tollerance should be practiced first.