In these days of bad news, fake news, and pejorative (difficult to confirm or to dispute but easy enough to argue about) broad strokes, I’m publishing a novel this summer that I hope turns this whirling macrocosm onto its microcosmic head. With an albeit fictitious more personal view of what can happen if we don’t learn how to communicate more clearly, keep our calm, and try to resolve instead of fan the fires of conflict, I hope my novel both entertains and informs.
In one of its many research study polls, Pew recently quoted Jim Warren, internet pioneer and technology activist, as saying, “It seems clear – at least in the U.S. – that ‘bad actors,’ children of all ages who have never been effectively taught civility and cooperation, are becoming more and more free to ‘enjoy’ sharing the worst of their ‘social’ leanings.”
The poll went on to conclude that not much is going to change any time soon. That’s why we have to start changing it on a more personal level, learning to engage with civility even if we disagree, to come to know one another better before we speak about politics and religion. We could start with our neighbors and work our way outwards.
In my new novel (TPP, August 2017), my two main characters couldn’t be more different from the outside looking in. Qasim has his doctorate, is Muslim, hails from an upper crust blue blood Beirut family, works for the UN, and has a history most 30-something international professionals have. Dianna, on the other hand, is straight out of college, financially supporting her widowed, ill mother and siblings, bred in the Bible Belt South, in an entry level job (although at a prestigious organization that’s already become a national institution), and has never traveled outside of her country…yet.
You’d think they’d pass each other by without a second look, right? But love is a funny thing, and an amazing teaching tool, and they do connect, and the fires of romance do flare, and step by step, they realize they have more in common than not. That’s the way it is when you get to know another person; passion simply speeds the process up.
Yet as happens often in multicultural or interracial relationships, the fires of love soon turn to flares of conflict. “You just don’t understand,” might be my novel’s subtitle. The more Qasim and Dianna disagree, the less they feel like opening up to one another. So they hold their secrets (come on now, we all have them), which if divulged early on in the relationship might have drawn them closer together, but undisclosed, start breeding distrust and more secretive behavior. You’ll have to read the novel to learn what the secrets are and to discover if and how they resolve their conflict and start sharing their feelings and true identities.
Does this fictitious story sound familiar these days? Where have you seen distrust? Cynicism? Close-mindedness? Who have you talked to recently you felt didn’t understand you, where you were coming from, or cared, and so you closed down?
If you end up buying and reading The Shores of Our Souls, I’d love to know your thoughts about how it reflects our world today, and how you feel getting to know one another will heal our world in some tiny, microcosmic (yet splendiferous) way.
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