The current political climate is all about polarization. Black versus white, alt-right against far left, pizza versus tacos. It’s ridiculous.
We have been pitted so hard against each other due to media manipulation, past grievances, and survival instincts that we are always on the defensive. (I say WE because I am no better than anyone-ever) I have grown so used to having to defend my beliefs and my path that my emotions feel calloused. People say promote what you love instead of ragging on what you hate, but then if I say I like pie someone out there is going to assume that I’m picking a fight and demand to know why I don’t like cake.
We have become caricatures of ourselves. Online interactions can often feel like battles. I get sucked into it too. We ALL do.
This is one of the most interesting times to be a writer/author/editor. The publishing industry is more important than ever. And what we publish has never been more scrutinized. This is why I love what I do. But I find more and more publications that are afraid to publish anything that may kind of upset anyone in any way. That sounds nice, but in an overpopulated world, someone is bound to take something the wrong way from it’s original intention. Censorship is detrimental to our right to freedom-of-speech. We must be able to openly express our experiences to helps others to relate regardless of our race, religion, sexual preference, gender, favorite pizza topping…all of it.
This is why I wrote my second children’s book, The Golden Rule. We have so much more in common than we will ever know. Having had Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Taoist, and Atheist friends of various backgrounds and heritages has always been life for me. My life has been rich and fulfilling because instead of being sheltered and closed in one mindset, I have found the freedom in friendships that stem from more than commonalities.
After the release of my first children’s book, My Family Is Different, I was overjoyed by the response. I still receive thank yous and praise over the simple message of acceptance and diversity through understanding. Because of support from not only Pagans but people of numerous faiths, that little story hit #18 in its genre on amazon-which may not seem like much to a New York Times bestseller, but it is still one of my most successful works to-date.
I could not have imagined the divides that this country would face. I foresaw some issues. It seems that after 9/11 we went back to sectional mindsets. It makes sense. A lot of people feel safer when surrounded by people who are like them and the psychology behind survival instincts does prove that homogenized societies have thrived for thousands of years. But we are better than that.
We have evolved beyond that. No matter what side of any issue you stand on, most of us want the same basic things and THAT is what I try to focus on no matter where my fears may lay. “Together we stand” is followed by “Divided we fall.”
My newest children’s book, The Golden Rule, was released yesterday. She is a story that goes deeper into faith and philosophy, but in a simplistic enough way that children can grasp and enjoy. I actually wrote it back in early 2014. I had been sitting on it for a while. It got lost in the shuffle like many things do.
Sometimes when we’re busy and/or frustrated at situations and life itself we forget things or push them off. We forget ourselves and thus forget others. I see the #Resist movement on twitter and when I hear that word, I don’t think about resisting a name, one branch of a checks and balance government; I think of resisting hate. We need to stop fighting fire with fire. We need to remember what connects us and use that to come together and improve on ourselves.
Everything starts at home. I have my own bias. Because certain Christians have decried me as “evil” or “lost” I have to constantly remind myself that most Christians are not like that. It is difficult because you don’t always know who is prejudiced against you. Some hide it very well.
But we cannot control what others do. The only thing a person can do in life is control their actions and reactions. I choose to write about certain topics not to preach, but to spread love and educate. If it comes off “preachy” I’m doing it wrong and need to up my game. Life is about constantly growing and changing.
I did a lot of research for The Golden Rule.
We all know the basis of the “Golden Rule”: treat people how you want to be treated. I knew of the famous bible passage: Do unto others, and I wanted to see what the “golden rule” of other faiths and philosophies were. What I found was beautiful. From the Koran to the Bhagavad Gita and beyond, there are so many different ways that the golden rule has been captured by religions and philosophies that I felt we should put them all into one story so children could see them side-by-side.
Molding young minds is the most rewarding aspect of life. To help contribute to individuality and respect, that gives more purpose.
My small contribution is only a little nudge. Permit me to quote the Edward Norton/Robin Williams flick “Death to Smoochie:” You can’t change the world, but you can make a dent.
It’s true. Like Charles De Lindt wrote: “Its leaving the world a little better than it was before you got here.”
The response to My Family Is Different was more than I could have ever expected. My hope is that this next story receives an even warmer welcome into the world. At first, it was just an answer to my daughter’s questions that came from the first. Now, it means so much more.
I used the same illustrator (though she has improved on her style-if that’s possible) and plan to keep working on myself, my community, and reaching beyond. It’s never been more important to remember to “Think globally and act locally.”
Everything starts inside. Taking care of ourselves helps us to help others. When you start in your community and branch out from there, it becomes infectious. Inspire others to lead inspiring lives.
My children inspire me every day. Children really are the greatest teachers.