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  • jrblackburnsmith

Salman Rushdie

Author Salman Rushdie spoke at Otterbein University, where I work, a few years ago. He spoke before a packed house, many of the guests members of the larger central Ohio community. Rushdie was funny and charming and fiercely independent.

The terrible attack on Rushdie shows the power of his work, but also the power of all writers: our ideas, conveyed through our texts, can change the world. Our words are powerful, they attach meaning to the chaos that swirls around us, and they can inspire people to act.

They can also be marshalled for terrible purposes, including inciting people to violence. What's interesting (scary, terrifying?) is that some people in our society refuse to let their narratives defend their beliefs and values; they use those narratives to manipulate individuals to act "righteously" in the sake of their ideals to use violence to shut down another voice, perspective, value system, belief. Violence can kill people, but it can't kill an idea.

I often wonder, as a writer, when I write about violence am I adding to the chaos of our world? Am I inspiring violence in the world by allowing violence in my books? I try not to glorify violence, and I way the value of any violent action (and why it's necessary to the narrative) against the pain it may be reflecting in our world, but I don't know if that is enough of a balance.

I will keep releasing my ideas into the world. I'll continue to believe they are part of a larger narrative that 'bends towards justice.' I hope you will all do the same.

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