Writing about war and hate

My current concern is that my novel needs to include more violence and hatred and religious intolerance. It’s never easy to think about those topics, and never easy to write about them, but in order to have the impact I want it to, my novel needs to push a lot harder into that area.

Sadly, I find I get all the inspiration and ideas that I need on the topic by reading news websites. We seem to be particularly nasty and intolerant as a society at the moment. It’s sobering to think that however much we protest about the holocaust, people are making similar comments about those caught up in the immigrant camps to those made about the Jews when the Nazis were in power. History is repeating itself, and those who are enacting it are either oblivious of the irony or don’t care.

One big topic these days is the phenomenon of white male privilege. How being born male and with a white skin gives advantages that these people are not even aware of, leaving others struggling in their wake. The privilege I’m seeing at the moment is one of being born in a developed country that’s fairly well off and fairly stable politically. That doesn’t make us better people than those who live in war-torn countries, or developing countries. Don’t we have a duty to share what we have, to make the most of our privilege to help others onto the same level?

Instead, we’re polarizing into us and them, friend and foe, judgement and condemnation. Any small act is publicised and either praised or condemned almost universally. We can’t make a mistake without it being held up for all to see and criticise. We can’t do some small kindness without it being lauded by complete strangers. We can’t see the true enemies because we’re too busy hating those we are told are enemies.

And so, as I struggle with my novel, one thing that keeps me going is the thought that maybe, in some small way, it might make at least one or two people think about what makes an enemy, what’s the purpose of war, and who are the true heroes.


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