Now this is a polemic topic about which we all get passionate in our own fashion. We get passionate about our favoured man or woman in a suit, about our stand on certain issues and needs, about our lack of affiliation to any of the established "sides". We get passionate and passion is the artist's ground state of being is it not?
Yet I see much debate and discussion over the inclusion or exclusion of what are considered "Political" topics in a writer's repertoire. I see dire warnings of avoidance lest agents reject the writer's work. lest audiences be impacted, lest judgement be levied...
Yet I ask you, writers, what is our profession?
It is our job, I feel, to challenge what is accepted; to push boundaries and evelopes, to think outside of whatever boxes they may put in our path. To be an artist is to be, for want of a better word, open-minded.
The Perversion of Politics
In today's world what has happened with politics? Today, everything from race to whether you wear slippers at home has become political. It seems that a large proportion of, at least, the online vocal community is incapable of deciding the best stance to take on said issue without the guidance of a wise politician or vox populi.
I have always, and will always be quite firm on my own beliefs with regard to such things as race, gender equality, justice, freedom of expression, LGBTQ+ issues, and so forth. I think it is a human right to have human rights, regardless of any way in which you may differ from me. Be that difference one of gender, identity, sexual preference, the colour of your skin, the country of your birth, or the origin of your ancestors you are as human as I am (well perhaps a little more seeing as this me we're talking about). For me to say this is fact is not, in my opinion, a political statement. Such an asseration is, to me, common decency and a no-brainer as it were. People are people, it's that simple.
Saying that Black Lives Matter is somehow a political matter strikes me as odd. Saying that women being treated equally to men is a political issue does not sit well with me. Saying that everyone has the right to identify themselves as they choose is political is, to me, an oxymoron. Decency is not political, it should be universal but, alas, it is not.
For me to be routinely attacked as a Liberal for stating such things is also rather odd. I mean, am i to believe that I have been somehow indoctrinated to believe that all humans being treated equally is OK? Am I failing to grasp the subtly of the matter? I do appreciate the irony of the fact that so many "free thinkers" use the term "Liberal" as an insult though. I appreciate the irony a lot.
Political vs Social
Now, I am more of the inclination that what many call political issues are, actually, social issues. Society as a whole has not come to accept equality for all of homo sapiens, in their beautiful variety yet, for example, and politicians use these issues as dog whistles to attract followers and money. It doesn't matter which "side" they belong to, which party or ideology, that is, of course their goal; money and power. I, personally, trust no politician any more than I trust the shark swimming up to me with that look in their eye promising not to take a least a small bite....
Politics in your World
When you started out with your story, I am sure there was some issue that inspired you. perhaps it was an event in your own life, in that of a loved one or, perhaps, even in the life of a complete stranger to you.
There was something that you wanted to talk about, something which was (and probably still is), for want of a better word, an issue for you.
It might be that there are not enough heroes out there who look and feel like you do. It may be that you strongly believe that your life experiences will help others going through times as difficult as yours were. It could also be that you feel that your community is either underrepresented or badly misrepresented in fiction. It might be that you have lived severe injustice and want nobody else to ever have to.
We all have our reasons and, when we are building our world we can do one of five things;
Build a utopia where such problems have never existed or were eliminated long ago. We use this as a lesson to show people what could and, in our opinion, can and should be.
Build a world where the antagonist represents the extremity of opposition to the issue. We make him or a her a facist dictator who hates the community the main cast represent. We defeat him/her and show how it can be done.
We introduce the "Innocent" into a society where such oppressions, discriminations, etc. are accepted and normal. The innocent could be an alien, for example. The Innocent questions the norm, changes the main character's mind and helps them either escape it or remake it.
We add an Outsider to an oppressive/ignorant society. Like the Innocent, the Outside questions the norm but they happen to be from a society much different to that of the main character (who is an oppressed minority in their society), a society where the main character would be rightly valued. The main character sees something horrible happening to people like them and, with the outsider's help, gets them away to the Outsider's society or builds a revolution.
The Outsider/Innocent; horrified by the society they see is the main character and decides to do something about the society they have become trapped in. The Outsider/Innocent has either a technology or ability nobody else does and can user this to great advantage.
We all do it, there is nothing to be ashamed of. If we had no desire to teach, we'd write non-fiction.
Whether you mean to or not, you will build your world, refine your characters, plot your storyline. with your own biases, beliefs, and principles wound tightly within everything. Who you represent, why, in what way, as what kind of a character, whether they live or die, will make a statement to at least one reader. We aim to resonate with our readers and, in order to do that we must make it real. In order to make it real we must borrow from the real world somewhat. When we borrow from the real world we WILL borrow something that means something other than we intended to someone. If we're lucky, we'll resonate exactly as we intended with enough people because that's what we really want.
It is impossible not to be political n today's world, whether you want to be or not. In a world where everything is being made political, you are going to offend someone. Your message is going to be misinterpreted at least once. You are going to be seen as making a point you did not mean to make (look at what we do to Shakespeare). Someone is going to believe that you support the ideology of one political party or the other. Someone is going to call you politically motivated names.
You cannot avoid infusing any world you create with your own biases, aspirations, hopes and dreams, principles, and beliefs either. That which is born from you will in some way resemble you, even if you cannot see it yourself. I am told that my Alexander looks a fair bit like me and that is in no way intentional. I know Kalliades sarcasm is my sarcasm. I know Alexander's dream of endless peace and prosperity is my dream. I know a world where no-one can be looked down upon because of how they were born is one I wish to live in. I know that true freedom requires sacrifice and change upheaval because I've lived that myself. I am, perhaps, something of a warrior-poet like Neshaa myself.
The Empyraeum and her denizens have a lot of me in them, much more than I probably realise and, to many, what that communicates does not sit well with their beliefs and those of the politicians they support. I know my works will be made as political as my beliefs have.
Maybe, in these troubled and troubling times, that is a good thing. Maybe it is what is needed. We can only hope, right?