Monday, January 20, 2014

Don't You Ever, EVER Feel Ashamed of Your Opinions

Since today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I thought this post would be perfectly timed.

Sometimes, it feels like a curse to be a writer (lol, emphasis on the 'sometimes,' meaning, rarely-to-never-and-only-if-I-force-myself because I love LOVE (!!) being a writer). Why? Because once you strive for publication and reach out on social media, you are no longer only yourself. Every single word you put out there, every Tweet, every Facebook status, is now stamped into your reputation as a writer and a bookseller.
Which means, for many of us, we can't ever feel free to share our opinions over social media even though we write to be heard. It's a paradox.

Don't you EVER feel that way.

I've felt this way. In fact, I still do feel this way. As a writer, I'm supposed to feel FREE to say whatever the hell I want. I'm supposed to bask in the glories of Free Speech, shower in the riches that come from the 1st Amendment which writers, we writers, are supposed to enjoy the most.

Do we really?

Martin Luther King Jr.
Source of Picture (I don't own it.)

If anything, most writers are in fact more censored than the average social media user. Only a few writers ever post their political opinions, human rights stance, etc. online. Only a few publicly display their minority views. The vast majority bite their tongue every single time they might let slip even a hint of their views in order to maintain readers.

But is this what we're here for? As writers, we're supposed to make a change in this world - how can we if we keep silent?

Now, I get staying silent for some things. For example, I'll doubt I'll ever publicly tell the world my political party because, 1) it's liable to change and social media never understands that opinions do change, 2) I know so very little about politics that by the off chance that my public support sways some voters, I don't want to sway people if I know nothing about what I'm saying, 3) I don't have the reach to even make a big impact with my opinions, so why share? and 4) I think elections are more of a 'pick the lesser of the evils' and that's not how they should be. Maybe if those things change I'll be more outspoken.

I get keeping silent about things that don't really matter to you, or things that are out of your control. And, beyond anything else, I understand keeping silent about touchy subjects which would cause rifts between your personal relationships and people you love.

That's all different. Those reasons for keeping silent are entirely valid.

But there's one reason that's not valid. And that's fear.

I feel this all the time when I see even one Tweet (from someone I know and like) who promotes a cause which I'm entirely against. And then when more and more and more people join that cause, I'm drowned out before I even began to speak. I'd never speak. I'd feel so dang ashamed.

I'm stupid, I'm an idiot, etc.

Is a relationship worth being maintained if you don't feel safe talking to them? Be strong in your beliefs. This does not mean that you should be bull-headed and bigoted. Always be open-minded (in fact, that's probably the biggest theme in my writing). Think, logically, about the other side's arguments. Give it heed. My rule in evaluating any argument is to think what's better for humanity as a whole. Then, do it.

But don't stay quiet when your insides are churning. Don't stay quiet when a mass of people are against you. Don't stay quiet when those people might very well cause huge changes in the world which might be bad changes. Don't stay quiet.

Because chances are, you're not alone in staying quiet. Martin Luther King Jr. did not stay quiet, and because he didn't, 250,000 previously-quiet people joined him in his March on Washington. Because of him, the people who were about to change the world and never let equality become a reality...because of him, those people were stopped. Because he spoke.

We're writers. We have a job to do. We have to take full (and honorable) advantage of Free Speech. By honorable, I mean that you research every position you publicly take a stand on, give your readers the reasons for your stance, and above ALL, make it certain that you are not in any way bigoted in your opinion. That is key.

We can fight all we want for our beliefs but know that the other side is fighting as well. The only solution is discussion; bigotry leaves no room for discussions. And I'll tell you now, if you're polite, humble, and calm about presenting your opinion, you won't lose any readers. In fact, you'll probably gain a lot more - and you might even make a change in this world.

It's MLK Day, and so, I thought a post like this was necessary. Don't ever feel scared, guys! I'm literally imagining a community where we all discuss global issues without ever feeling threatened or scared - and I'm smiling, because it's a wonderful dream. Imagine all the problems in the world that could be solved this way.

So, the biggest cause I'd love fighting for: the environment. And I'd support pretty strong measures to protect it. Here's the thing many people don't realize: nature will never die. It's not like we'll kill nature. Unless we change our ways right now, we'll end up killing ourselves. It's the closest thing to an apocalypse that we have coming in the near future. It's a scary thought. (Sorry, I can't offer any consolation DX )

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everyone, and I hope you enjoyed this post!

How do you feel about this unspoken form of censorship? Do you think that writers should choose which battles to fight; save up for the important issues, and let the lesser ones go? What are your plans for today?


  1. The only way for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.
    Some things I don't talk about, like politics. (It's probably obvious which way I lean without me ever saying a word anyway.) But we shouldn't be afraid to speak our beliefs.

  2. Love this post! I have some really unpopular opinions among my generation -- most of them political. I've always been afraid to voice them, and I know if I did I would probably lose a lot of respect. I won't lie and say I'm not afraid to voice them, but maybe one day I'll be able to stand firm in my beliefs and express them in a respectful but confident way.

  3. Well put, SC! I have to admit I don't put my political views online, but I write romance. ;-)

  4. amen! don't be afraid to speak what you're passionate about at anytime or in anyway!!