Sunday, 24 July 2011

Norway and the Truest Sentence You Can Write

This was supposed to be a lighthearted blog on things that can kick-start our brains for writing: running, movies, crosswords…

But the world has intruded. The Norway shootings, the Somalia famine, grip us, inspire pity and fear. What if it was my kid at summer camp when the maniac opened up? Or what if I was that hungry mother or father in Somalia dragging myself and my starving little ones hundreds of miles in search of food and a dirty bit of tent to sleep under?

Fleeing war and famine or right-wing lunatics -- who would have time to daydream characters and situations, plot and setting? Is it even right to be so involved in our little fictional worlds when the real one needs help?

Let’s look at Prableen Kaur: As a deputy leader of Norway’s Labour party’s youth wing she was trying in her own way to make the world a better place before Friday’s massacre. Instead she ran for her life along with hundreds of other youth persecuted by a madman. But in the middle of the most terrible event that had ever happened to her she prayed, and then, updated her face book and Twitter accounts and after her rescue blogged her first person story. She was reaching out, making contact and telling the truth she saw. That blog will probably form part of the case against the attacker, Anders Breivik when it comes to court. Apart from surviving, it was the most important thing she could do.

So my question is, is it enough to witness to what’s going on and write the truest sentence that we know as Anne Lamott says in her tough and funny memoir, Bird by Bird? Or should we be actively engaged in making the world a better place? Or both? And if we can only do one of then which should it be?