If you’re reading this, you probably run a book publishing company. And you probably have strong ideas about your company’s role in society. Most of us do.
I ask you to consider it explicitly today, in the light of recent political assassinations in the US and elsewhere.
It is my opinion that we in the media bear a responsibility to our societies. It may be that citizens ultimately control the type of government under which they live, but it is the media that make it easy for demagogues to operate, or who hold their shabby tricks up to the light of day.
When we publish at book-length, we are uniquely able to ensure that political discourse stays away from fear-mongering, and to cry “Foul!” when public figures substitute appeals to emotion for logic.
Unfortunately, recent politics in the US and elsewhere have become increasingly driven by hate and fear. The results are not only that the unstable among us are driven to horrendous crimes, but also that we are not dealing with the enormous problems that confront our world and our countries. Very little substantive progress has been made by the right or the left in the US. No visible attempts to find mutually acceptable solutions are being made. And in other areas of the world (the Middle East springs vividly to mind), the situation is far worse.
We are letting our politicians and pundits get away with this. We are letting our citizens look past it, and see only the facts and figures that support their prejudices.
Of course, in shaping our readers’ world views, we must also find a market for our books. And being didactic won’t sell. But well written exposes of the cheap tricks used by both sides of any major issue just might. They’d certainly be easy to publicize! So, I challenge you to challenge your authors, editors and readers. Make them think instead of feel. Don’t let the demagogues win. We can be, we should be, the guardians of rationality and our books, even novels, can add to the light instead of the fog of fear.
Ideas and arguments are encouraged. As always, do tell me where I went wrong!