Some recent events and encounters with certain passionate non-fiction authors have put a burden on my heart, a sense of responsibility or obligation to help speed them on their way any way I can. These are generous-hearted, non-judgmental, self-less souls who have identified a pocket or whirlpool of suffering or injustice that has so stirred them that they feel compelled to speak out in the effort to right a wrong or draw attention to sad and seemingly hopeless situations, situations that don’t make the front pages of newspapers or national news, but are no less tragic because of the world’s ignorance or indifference. In the process of trying to give voice to these stories, to just do something, anything, to help alleviate what they see as senseless pain and deprivation, their own lives have been transformed. They have in a very real sense become larger people, heroes even, if you will.
In my long and checkered past as a journalist, I interviewed hundreds of authors for major media, but most of them were literary luminaries with dazzling reputations among the cognoscenti. Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoyed every minute of it, bathing as a young writer in their reflected glory and picking up some very valuable writing advice and technique. It was a privilege, certainly, and advanced my own skill and career immeasurably.
Yet today this strikes me as limited and cold-hearted on my part. The pursuit of literary art is a fine and wonderfully worthy ambition, and the benefits spread slowly yet inevitably throughout societies and cultures.
But true to say, most people will never read those books, they appeal to a rarefied audience, and in the meantime truly good people who got off their duffs to help the silently suffering go largely unremarked, even ignored, as not being glamorous enough, or famous enough, or rich enough to warrant any attention or respect.
This is a roundabout way of saying that I am hatching a plot for a series of interviews tentatively titled “Good People Doing Great Things,” on this blog with non-fiction “authors,” most of them not pros, but decent people whose rising gorge of indignation at the wrongs they witness makes it impossible for them to remain silent, and who go to great personal effort and often personal expense, to truly make the world a better place by dealing with, not global tragedies or injustices, but the tragedies right under their noses, whether at work, in their communities or cultures. They make sacrifices to do this, they do not this for glory or notoriety, but simply to be of help to those in desperate circumstances or to tell a human story that cries out to be told.
This guilt inspired (I’ll be honest here) purpose of mine could very well evolve into a separate blog, maybe even an annual “book,” who knows, it’s too early to say. But I’ve found that if you wait to put together a 10 year plan with exhaustive cost-benefit analyses, teams of experts, etc., nothing at all will ever get done. People (and animals, the planet) will continue to suffer and die senselessly while the world goes on its merry way.
I have four or five authors lined up to get this launched. I am not sure when the first will appear here, but I hope you’ll stay tuned. For these are not just studies in personal nobility or selfless sacrifice, but gripping stories that easily could be novels or stories of redemption achieved by going out of oneself to save others.
Shades of St. Francis. This basic message resonates throughout the gospels. If you would save your life, you must first lose it, lay it down, that is, your unreconstructed selfish self, and live for others.
Most starts are wobbly and uncertain with any new endeavor, but if you bear with me, I believe we will all reap enormous rewards in bringing these stories to light.
Finally, if you know of someone or a group of people who seem worthy of such notice, I encourage you to let me know who they are. Maybe we’ll even have some guest bloggers here doing the interviews. We’ll have to see what develops.
Whatever the case, the motive is pure and as they say, “it can’t hurt, and it might even help.”