I am passionate about the cause of the world peace. I believe in our ability as a species to get along without killing each other and it is hard to keep that conviction out my fiction. Yes, I do understand that my stories would be more action packed if I just let my characters continually fire weapons, (or incessantly take each other to bed for that matter), and if I didn’t worry so much about what is in their hearts and minds and souls. But honestly, it is my character’s struggles to be better humans that interests me most. How they triumph over the bad guys is secondary.
So, there you have it. I don’t want to write books about shallow people leading exciting lives. I want to write books about amazing people struggling to lead compassionate lives. I suspect that this limits my potential audience. I accept that. The wall of the spare bedroom that I write in features Kurt Cobain’s famous quote I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not. You wouldn’t think that Kurt Cobain and I had a lot in common, but we do, at least in that I aspire to authentically create that to which I am driven. He, of course, did so.
So as an unabashed peace-nik in the year 2015, I am so happy to have discovered the International Day of Peace. I came across it a few years ago while doing research for this blog, and have tried to give it mention here each year. Today I will let the organization describe the day in its own words. Please visit their blog, which I quote from below. Please consider a small act of compassion to acknowledge the day.
Then read on to one of my favorite passages from x0 in which my hero Lola wonders whether a telepath is capable of killing another human. Her imagined scenario of war without death was taken from a school paper written by my daughter. The possibility grips me still. Someday there will be at least a short story, and maybe a whole novel, using this idea.
A Day Devoted to Strengthening the Ideals of Peace (from the International Day of Peace Website)
International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on 21 September. Established in 1981 by resolution 36/37, the United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. Furthering the Day’s mission, the General Assembly voted unanimously in 2001 to adopt resolution 55/282 establishing 21 September as an annual day of non-violence and cease- fire.
Anyone, anywhere can celebrate Peace Day. It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, sitting in silent meditation, or doing a good deed for someone you don’t know. Or it can involve getting your co-workers, organization, community or government engaged in a large event. You can also share thoughts, messages and pictures to commemorate Peace Day on social media. Use this site to find organized events in your area and for inspiration on celebrating Peace Day in your own way.
Thanksgiving night, after the dishes were done, the television off, and Teddie and Alex in bed, Lola curled up on the couch with her laptop. With both of the older two kids flying home in just a few weeks for Christmas, the Zeitmans had for years passed on the effort and expense of a family reunion at Thanksgiving as well. So, with other family either far away or passed away, it had slowly become less of a holiday for them, with four days off to relax being its chief asset.
She found a series of new links on the x0 website, apparently posted by members. One area caught her eye. Crime statistics. Hmm. She followed a link, to the website of an organization called the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence, and discovered that there now was a group out there devoted, purely and simply, to reducing the amount of times one human being intentionally uses a weapon to kill another. By any means. War, gang warfare, murder, mass murder. Whatever.
She read that this declaration was endorsed by more than a hundred countries, but the good old U.S.A. did not appear to be one of them. Why not?
According to the website, an estimated seven hundred and forty thousand men, women, and children are shot and killed each year worldwide. She had to wonder how many of those humans would not have died if the person pulling the trigger had been able to read the mind of the life which they were about to snuff out. Would telepathy have prevented every single such death? Most of them?
She doubted it. What about those who were under orders to kill? Those whose fellow warriors faced death or whom faced death themselves if they failed to shoot? Solving that mess required more empathic ability on the parts of those actually giving the orders, she thought, and probably more creative options than shooting for those in the midst of armed conflicts as well.
Lola let herself try to imagine a world in which that problem had been creatively addressed. She saw in her mind’s eye imaginary news footage showing hoards of foot soldiers, armed with Tasers instead of guns. Occasionally a bomb would fall from the sky, spewing pepper spray. The fight for territory, for whatever reason it was happening, was harsh and brutal, but it was being done by soldiers on both sides who were taking unusual pains to spare every life. Why? Because in the war Lola was imagining, the soldiers operated in a world where murder was so abhorrent, so disgusting, that its commission, even in war, would lose the hearts and minds of those they were sworn to protect.
Seven hundred and forty thousand people a year. Could humans change enough to alter the very rules of warfare if society demanded it of them? We’d walked away en masse from cannibalism, incest, slavery, and human sacrifice, she thought. We were capable of declaring some actions not worthy. Why then not the action of taking another human life?
Were there circumstances in which a telepath would choose to shoot? Lola could think of two. The first seemed a contradiction in terms because it required a telepath who could sense the feelings of others and simply not care. He feels the other persons fear, anguish, possible remorse, hope for life, and then he shoots anyway. But to feel and not to feel was an oxymoron, or at least she hoped so.
The second possibility made her shudder as well. In this case the armed, yet caring, telepath sensed the potential victim’s thoughts and feelings, but instead of finding compassion, he or she would find those feelings so reprehensible, and so dangerous, that the telepath would make the painful and yet the fully informed choice to pull the trigger. To shoot anyway. Lola wondered what kind of victim it would take for a caring and moral telepath to make that choice.
(For more thoughts on how my characters’ superpowers might affect their lives see my post If you could see the future would you want to?)