I have come to a realization, my dear followers. It is both obvious and stunning, wonderful and horrifying.
A new age of stories must begin.
Note that I did not say ” a new age of stories has begun”. I said that a new age of stories must begin.
Recently, among my football peers and the female managers that assist my coaches, I heard a conversation which put me on edge. Between two of the players and one of the managers, I heard the manager speaking about what she intends to do with her life once she is an adult. From my perspective, it was obvious that she wanted to throw her life away into an obscure, dark world of immorality, “fun”, eventual depression, and many unhappy relationships. She, it appeared, thought otherwise. She thought she would be living the good life.
And now we come to a punchline, my dear followers. One of the focuses of today’s post:
What is the good life?
It is a question that has been asked since the time of the ancient Greeks to the present. We are always searching for an answer, a way to discern how we should live our lives and why we should live in that manner. What do we know about the good life, the way to live a life of peace, happiness, and prosperity?
It’s worth fighting for.
Open up almost any fantasy, sci-fi, or historical fiction novel, and you’ll discover this is true. We should fight to live our lives in peace and happiness. We should fight to protect those we love. Now, how does this tie in to a new age of stories?
Read carefully, because this may get complicated. Stories, for many, many years, have been a great source of inspiration for society in relation to how we are influenced to act. Stories could include novels, poems, or real live stories that happen on the news. Without a doubt, they can stir our emotions, brighten our minds, or make us fierce with determination. In general, most fictional stories have a moral, a lesson that a reader must find, or a lesson that a reader will be presented with. This lesson will become a source of guidance on the near occasion of evil conduct in our lives. Impacted by the virtue introduced in the story, we are prompted by this knowledge of what is good and beautiful to act in a certain way that reflects the moral standard indicated and posed by the virtue itself. If this can be accomplished, then the goal of the moral of the given story, and the goal of the author of the story, have all been met.
The problem is, my dear followers, this doesn’t seem to happen any more.
When was the last time you thought of your favorite hero when you felt like doing something you know you shouldn’t, and did you successfully defeat the temptation?
The question must now turn to, at least briefly, are our heroes morally authentic? If our heroes fail to provide us with examples of morality that we can actively apply to our lives, are these heroes of any use to us, and do they even inspire us to do good? Do they even sometimes inspire us to do what is wrong? Or make us feel like doing what we know is wrong is okay, merely because they did it? This falls, almost without fail, to the duty of the author of a story, to make sure that his own creations do not influence others into what is wrong, immoral, and an ugly counterfeit to that which is beautiful and can and should be attained in our lives. Nevertheless, it also falls upon the reader to interpret the meaning of the story, and to accept the story for what it is. If a perfectly sound moral is presented to a reader, but he or she morphs the moral so that it really isn’t a moral at all, but somehow sanctions an act of wrongdoing, due to the reader’s morphing, who is to blame, the reader or the author?
I have said it a couple times before, notably in my posts The Power of Words and A Letter to the Artists Out There, that we, as writers, have the responsibility to aptly represent an authentic sense of morality in the lives of our characters. From the fruits of our imagination we can give life to generation upon generation of our fellow human beings, giving them true heroes to emulate so that they might better themselves…or we can do the opposite, and bring our society lower and lower with each book, chapter, page, paragraph, sentence, word, and letter.
I said that nobody takes morals and applies them to their lives anymore. That’s obviously not true, because I’m sure that some people do. But in general? I believe that the answer is no. Call me a pessimist (because I am!), but truth is truth.
I thought to myself today that maybe people can see and understand morals in books, movies, poems, etc., but they don’t really believe in them. Maybe they can see in a book that that was a laudable sacrifice that brother made for his sister, or that was a really courageous thing that boyfriend did for his girlfriend, and maybe that act of motherly affection really made a difference for that child. Maybe people can recognize good, moral choices. But do they understand that perhaps behaving in such an upright way, as heroes do, isn’t just meant to be for heroes in stories? Do they realize that maybe the way heroes choose to live isn’t just the right way to live for the heroes themselves, but the way that everyone should live? Do they understand that every time a hero is courageous, or makes a sacrifice, or does what is true, good and beautiful, that that can and should be imitated in our lives?
Society is not a happy place. It is not beautiful. It lacks integrity. It lacks virtue. Too many times virtue isn’t portrayed by modern story-tellers. Too many times morality is misinterpreted or twisted. And our people do not understand that virtue, goodness, and love give birth to happiness, peace, and prosperity. Therefore, a new age of stories must begin. We must seek to inspire, and make sure our audience understands that that which inspires can indeed be carried out in our real lives. We must strive to make genuine heroes that overcome their struggles in believable, laudable manners, and always uphold the proper moral standards.
We must do this.
A new age of stories must begin.
This world must receive the inspiration it needs.
We must form society around us into an image of greatness.
We are writers.
Let’s do this.