"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Friday, 28 September 2012

J K Rowling's own Shades of Grey

Do women lack the confidence to make their points of view known in meetings and radio phone-ins? It would seem so. Driving over to see my sister yesterday there was a piece on the radio, describing this imbalance between male and female voices where opinions are sought - something like 70% male to 30% females. And it seems much of this is down to a lack of confidence in the fairer sex. Why? Because we are afraid we have nothing important to say; that we will be ridiculed; that we will not be given a fair hearing. I confess -

I have suffered from this to some extent all my life, around the meal table, in meetings, at conferences! Victorian children were "seen and not heard." It is only relatively recently that children have all been encouraged to be opinionated and their comments heard and indeed respected for what they are worth. 

Now I feel I must voice my own strong opinion on something. Many will not agree but I don't care. This has to be said. 

 J. K. Rowling is worth upward of £500 million, much of her fortune reaped from the pocket money and birthday money of our youngsters. So why, hot on the heels of the Fifty Shades trilogy, does she feel the need to produce her own version of something much darker than the Harry Potter books knew how to be. (1) My concern is that I am sure this book, The Casual Vacancy, will be bought by those same youngsters and young adults who were introduced to reading by Harry Potter and his friends.One million have been pre-ordered already.

OK, we writers have a creative urge - many of us feel compelled to write. I understand that. But to write stuff which in places is frankly disgusting, disturbing, brutal, and unnecessarily explicit, in bad ways? Don't writers have some kind of social responsibility, especially where our young people are concerned?

I'm not a prude. But we are not going to become better people by reading books such as these. Rather we need to celebrate the beautiful and the wonderful ways of our world.

Why is this important? Because, as well as our inherited physical characteristics, it is widely believed that we pick up mental wounds from the collective experiences of our ancestors.

The unhealed wounds of mankind inflicted through millennia of evolution by strife and violence and disaster mean therefore that hundreds of millions of people are psychologically, emotionally and physically scarred and wounded and in need of healing. It has even been suggested by some psychologists that “human culture as a whole has been saturated by unhealed wounding, which, if unchecked, will continue on a downward spiral toward inevitable disintegration.” (2)

Surely we should be doing all we can to heal wounds, not perpetuate them? How can we hope to heal the world when so many of us have such mental and spiritual wounds? And books like Fifty Shades of Grey and The Casual Vacancy simply do not help the quest to heal an already overly evil world.

Come on Jo. I hear that you give plenty of your dosh to good charitable causes. Perhaps you should be diverting your creative writing energies into something altogether more healing.

But then I put this forward diffidently with little confidence and I don't suppose any one will agree. I await the ridicule with trepidation.

Adapted from an idea that is explored in some more depth in Healing this Wounded Earth: with Compassion, Spirit and the Power of Hope.

© Eleanor Stoneham 2012

(1) see the Daily Telegraph September 27 2012 - "Oh Jo, What will the children think?" Re J K Rowling's latest book, The Casual Vacancy, Comment by Allison Pearson who writes - and I quote: "J K Rowling's first adult novel is an everyday story of country folk who beat their wives, are addicted to drugs and abuse their toddlers. It is a departure that will shock many fans."
I have read enough to know I won't want to read the whole book.

(2) Thompson, Judith and James O’Dea, Shift Issue 7, May 2005, “Social Healing for a Fractured World; a Summary Report to the Fetzer Institute.”

The picture is of Victoria Lilies at the Oxford Botanical Gardens.


Becca said...

I feel I'll need to be hot on my toes with this one and hope that none of the children I'm coming into contact with are caught up in reading it! Most certainly not something children need to be reading!

Eleanor Stoneham said...

sadly Becca I'm not sure how on earth we stop them?

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