I’m not sure I can make this post about writing because I have to “vent my spleen” as Grandma would say. A caveat before I begin: I’m not trying to raise a political debate nor pass judgment on the 700 Club nor Pat Robertson. However, one year ago this November my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This disease robs people and their loved ones of more than anyone who remains untouched by the disease can imagine. It’s a dehumanizing disease without anyone suggesting that someone is dead once diagnosed.
My dad is an elder emeritus of the church, a retired builder, retired GM worker, and a humanitarian who will never retire. He is a husband, a son, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, a brother, a friend. One thing he is not, under any definition, is dead.
He still plays with his great grandkids. When a deck needs fixing, he’s still the first one who responds. His friends still rely on him. His family still believes in him. Apparently, that’s not enough to meet the definition of alive. I thank God my mom doesn’t hold Mr. Robertson’s view of marriage.
Given his perspective, where does that leave those dying of cancer, or debilitated by strokes, Parkinson’s, ALS, or a host of other crippling diseases? Should we abandon these people because they are “as good as dead”? Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Jesus would say.
My dad is a veteran. He fought for the rights of everyone. Including the right of Pat Robertson to spew ignorance. However, I wish people in the public eye would think about the private pain of others before they exercised their right to speak.
Perhaps there is a writing lesson here after all. Words carry such power. Our use of them in our writing can make all the difference. Too many weigh the writing down, too few leave the reader unsatisfied. Every word should move the story forward and especially propel the main character toward his goal.
Pat Robertson did a lot of damage with few words. We can do that with our writing. Or we can choose to propel things forward, seeking the positive, proposing the kinder approach.
Even in conflict, we should find some understanding. Hear that Congress?