by Gamal Hennessy
Police strangle a man in broad daylight.
Police gun down yet another unarmed man and I keep writing.
Protests turn into riots and police suppress the media, but I keep writing.
Gaza bombs Israel. Israel invades Gaza and I’m still writing.
Ebola spreads fear and death but that doesn’t stop me from writing.
Russia invades Ukraine.
Iraq and Syria crumble into civil war.
Fanatics behead journalists.
Athletes beat women and send them to the hospital.
Rape culture, racism and sexual repression remain fixtures in our culture.
I just keep writing.
What is the point?
Books and ideas can change the world, but I’m not writing some social manifesto. Very few people read what I write and even if they did, it wouldn’t change the relationship between cops and the community, women and men, or people and their own sexual expression. Writing, especially my writing, doesn’t change the world, but it might offer a way to cope.
Writing is an opportunity for catharsis. When anger and rage from police brutality, misogyny and other acts of human stupidity start to pile up, a writer can channel all those negative emotions into their work instead of holding it inside. A reader can feel the visceral impact without exposing themselves to more danger. Perhaps hiding an emotional truth inside a fictional lie is a good way to express the chaos of our lives. Maybe that’s why humans need stories. Maybe that’s why I write.
I don’t know the right answer and I don’t have solutions to the problems we face. But I’m not trying to solve the world’s problems. I’m just trying to write.
So I keep writing.