Building Bridges

Building Bridges

The contrast between the open faces of the protesters at Standing Rock and the law enforcers togged up in riot gear reminds me once again of the gulf between those who see the earth as a conscious being and those who don’t. The gulf appears to be unbridgeable.

I stand on the edge of this and other divides where it’s easier to indulge in lamentation and fury than to cope with the vertigo which turns me to jelly every time I peer into the abyss.

The cat-like side of my personality prefers to curl up in a warm corner and pretend the divides do not exist. The dragon is more of a warrior. It has carried me over the edge; it has helped me to sift through the dirt at the bottom of the gulf and to create the framework for many of the Songs of Miria.

A major theme in my novels concerns an issue similar to that facing the indigenous peoples of Dakota: how do those who love the land and respect all the beings who rely on it deal with those who seek to exploit it? In fiction I can manipulate the exploiters into engineering their own downfall. In fiction love can be stronger than fear any time the author chooses.

As a writer I’m supposed to know the difference between a fantasy world and the real one. However, the craziness of the last couple of years in the so-called real world has underlined the power of the stories we are told and the stories we tell ourselves. In his recent film HyperNormalisation Adam Curtis unravels many of them and glides over others. Running at 166 minutes, it is long but worth watching on BBC iPlayer.

Stories are powerful. Where they can reinforce division and fear, they can also build bridges. They can open hearts and minds to new and different possibilities and help to shift attitudes from knee-jerk fear of others to empathy. This is why I write them.