Can writing fiction change reality?

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Anger hurts. Anger reacts and retaliates. Anger consumes like fire among tinder.

Anger rages in so many parts of our world. Wars and political uprisings, invasions, murder and brutality spill from one country to another and onto our own city streets. An ostrich approach is tempting except we know anger won’t disappear just because we shield our eyes from it. In fact, if we’re not paying attention it can overtake us like a wildfire.

There is an ad for Amnesty International on television right now, showing three hooligans beating a young man. As they raise rifles to shoot him, they discover the eyes of the camera recording the incident and, conscious of being seen, lower their weapons and walk away. The caption suggests public awareness makes a difference. But does it make enough of a difference?

Awareness is a first step, but awareness that doesn’t result in action is ineffective. Without action there won’t be change.  And that completes the circle, because without change there is more frustration, more anger.

Like smoldering peat, creeping subsurface after a fire, the underlying causes of anger are hard to extinguish.

Helplessness is infuriating. Sometimes I wish for the days of ignorance, where television and newspapers didn’t invade my life with images and information reflecting hate. Did all the publicity perpetuate it, or has it always existed but without such widespread recognition?

Works of non-fiction document the truth that surrounds us. Fiction creates worlds where truth becomes whatever we want it to be. Sometimes I am asked why I choose to write fiction, and the only answer I can verbalize is that I want to create a happily ever after. I wish it for everyone but can only make it happen for my characters. That’s better than nothing.

What motivates the kind of stories you choose to write?

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Real Life Murder Story

Guns and gangs, murder and mayhem — it sounds like the makings of another great murder mystery, except this time it’s real life in the Fraser Valley during the past two weeks.

 

Three infamous gangster brothers, Jonathan, Jarrod and Jamie Bacon, are linked to a drug gang known as the Red Scorpions. They live in Abbotsford, BC, under camera surveillance by the RCMP who have also issued a warning to the community “to steer clear of the Bacons, their family and friends” because rivals have been killing their associates, one by one, in locations around the lower mainland.

 

People are being shot down in apartment buildings, outside restaurants, in shopping malls, and innocent bystanders are being caught in the crossfire. It feels surreal. But how our communities are proposing to deal with it is just as bizarre.

 

In Langley where the most recent incident took place, the mayor in a TV news interview said that stopping the violence is “a legislative thing.” The brother-in-law of one of the victims thinks along the same lines, saying “[Attorney-General] Wally Oppal had better do something about it now.” On talk radio yesterday I heard a caller say, “Parliament has to outlaw the use of illegal firearms.” Oh, sure… just tell the gangs their weapons are illegal and no doubt they’ll hand them right over.

 

I can’t believe they think the solution is that simple. If it were, our communities would have been violence-free centuries ago. While I don’t know what the answer is, I know it won’t be discovered by expecting someone else to find it.