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A War on Words

I do not, on principle, believe in violent protest. I am on the fence about demonstrating. It seems like having a foot in becoming a rabble. But that is very much a matter of circumstance.

Likewise, I don't believe in revolutions from above, that is, top-down changes in administration that most of the population neither participates in nor even knows about. The lack of transparency bothers me. Changes for the people shouldn't exclude the people. I find the willful suppression of intellectual discourse within society disgusting. It stifles the mental development of everyone involved. Let us take for example my country's willful suppression of any opinion that deviates from the ruling government's hard-line spiritual moderation. On the surface, moderation seems like a good thing, being neither here nor there, and thus, theoretically least likely to offend the most number of people. What it encourages instead, because it so harshly clamps down on voices deviating from this moderate line, is driving discourses from either of these far-flung sides underground.

In the case of the far right Islamic fundamentalists, being driven underground only allowed their philosophies to breed and grow ever more stubborn, until such time the core of this movement has permanently stained the landscape, and worse, leeched into mainstream thought, so that its influence is now insidiously and frighteningly part of our moral norm. I have of late wondered what difference it would have made if, instead of throwing the proverbial pillow over the heads of the far right, the government had allowed their philosophies to enter society as part of the sum of intellectual discourse. What if, for example, far right dogma had come under the scrutiny, like any other line of thought, of public inquiry from all sides, including but not exclusively from, the government? Would these ideas have been tempered at the root? Would more people have come to understand these things as man-made, and not orders from God?

Would the central government, being the bastion of hard-line moderation, have not itself fallen prey to conservative ideals it barely recognises it has adopted, and thus flippantly dismisses when called upon about the subject, because it has traditionally been moderate?

As I near the end of Finches, I've found myself considering these things more. The book started as a foci for much more personal angers, what that conservative taint, with particular criticism on polygamy and its destructive effects, has done to my family. As I have grown, so has my writing. The later chapters have come to discuss less about personal slights, and more about my very real fear over what my country has become. I refuse to believe that the kinder, less culturally-inhibitive country I remember from my childhood was a mass hallucination of my generation, among the first generations of children to grow up directly after Independence. I absolutely refuse to believe that our parents, the people who were young adults between that transition from colonialism to self-rule, have lost all sight of the community and mutual respect that built their lives, the same lives they used to raise us.

I also wished this post wasn't currently written to that live rendition of Dave Grohl giving himself a sore throat over Tiny Dancer, because it's making me sentimental.

My other big regret, apart from using a novella that's taken me the better part of 6 years to write as an ongoing conversation with my country, is that -- yes, I spent the last 6 years writing this -- at the end of the day, I will have a piece of writing that literary agents generally advise should be put in a drawer until I have published a few novels, or alternatively, try to extend to 80,000 words so it's actually worth looking at. At the time of writing, Finches is approximately 26,000 words long. I cannot see it being extended to 80,000 words. I do not conceivably see how it could be marketed, being that it is in that "no man's land" of between word counts. Makes for a good reason to even finish the thing, doesn't it? When I am finally done with this manuscript, I think I will be very angry indeed.

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