If love is the highest ideal in society, the foundation and currency of any sustainable societal and human improvement, then truth is the way a writer loves. If love is patient, kind, never envious, boastful, arrogant, or rude, not insistent on its own way, not irritable, or resentful, not rejoicing at wrongdoing, but with the truth; if love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never ends, telling the truth is the way writers demonstrate love for a story, our characters, and most importantly our readers. Writing is a ministry.
It’s a sacred undertaking that requires constant meditation and witness, an eye and a heart for details seen and unseen, and the compassion to document what we observe with precision and humility. It’s profane too. It demands we enter the toilet of the human heart and sit in our own filth. It necessitates stripping ourselves, slashing ourselves open, and then parading and broadcasting the wounds that gape and whisper unspeakable things, which, of course, requires ego.
Writing requires the yearn and the fight to be seen and heard in perpetuity, and so it needs to be able pass through the fire. It cannot bow to the vicissitudes of political whim, cultural norms, or prevailing powers, yet it must be vigilant enough to reflect on how these impact the human experience through whatever device or genre the writer is gifted to employ. Which means the writer must be at once emotionally available, insensitive enough to prod, pick, ply, pry, and laugh, and militant about being both.
If love is the underpinning of empathy and service, the instinct that aspires to equal justice even at the cost of one’s own advantage, the passion that penetrates hierarchy and division (and initiates this penetration), the primal motive that channels the Supernatural, then truth is the writer’s expression of love to and for the current and future reader. Truth is all a writer can leave to posterity. Truth is the only way forward.
But if truth is the actual state of a matter, conformity with a verified or indisputable fact, proposition or principal, an obvious or accepted fact or platitude, an agreed upon standard; if truth is reality, actuality, fidelity, or constancy, is it, in fact, disputable? How can we know the actual state of a matter when it is impossible to know all of the facts of a situation or scenario? How can we trust or accept as indisputable that which is often verified by adulterated agenda and/or vastly different experiences of reality? How do we agree upon a standard, when the standard is often set by some at the expense of others? If we can’t always agree, can we accept that there are multiple truths, some of which compete with and deny the other truths, even truths we may hold as self-evident; or must we concede to one truth for convenience, as a sort of truce?
The writer’s attempt to answer these questions, for herself and through her work, requires love. That is, patience devoid of arrogance, commitment to resisting insisting on his/her own way, and the rest. This is the struggle. This is the revolution.