If you could sit down with any influential leader from any country; who would it be and what would you say to them?
Every time I get one of these prompts that urges me to look at the real world, I become even more of a gremlin than usual, scurrying under my desk and hissing at having to face reality. I try to find some angle, some interpretation, that will allow me to write a short bit of fiction instead. I figured with a few days of idle brainstorming, I would come up with a plot I could work this prompt into.
I had even decided I was going to write in my Galactic Empire universe. I thought I would have Fae or Tar pose the question to Todd and have him talk about what he wishes he could say to Veralis. It would undoubtedly be something to the effect of “give me back my brother, you genocidal space witch!” but not quite so brazen. He’s pretty empathetic, after all.
I like writing fictional characters going through their emotions. I struggle to realize my own emotions. I like to observe the world and the people in it without judging them harshly. When they start drawing lines and taking sides, I bounce out. I can see the lines and they’re always blurrier than people think. Even if my own feelings align with one side, I don’t like being against the others because I know why they stand where they do. Things aren’t black and white.
“None of that really has anything to do with this prompt though,” you might say. “It’s not asking you to take a stance on anything, just say something to an influential leader.”
Ah, but deciding on a leader to talk to has implications. Do I want to talk to someone whose policies I disagree with? Do I want to thank someone whose beliefs align with mine for always fighting the good fight? Do I want to talk to an American leader or a foreign national? Why am I interpreting “leader” in the political sense? There are plenty of leaders around the world, of companies, of causes, of religions. Also, I don’t like talking to strangers and you want me to just speak my mind to powerful strangers? Do I have immunity here in case I accidentally insult their honor?
“You’re overthinking the prompt again. It’s just a hypothetical.”
I know, I know, but it’s just what I do. There’s not even a reason for me to be beholden to these prompts. If I don’t like it, I could just move on and write something else. But that feels like a cop out. The prompts are intended to challenge me to think outside the box, to create words in my brain and commit them to paper. Er, screen. These prompts that I instinctively flinch away from are exactly the kinds of prompts I need to answer, and not just vicariously through my characters.
Ok, ok. Here goes. I am going to sit down with…the Pope. And what am I going to say to him? Well, after a lot of stammering and false starts, probably something like this.
“Hey, so, I think it’s really awesome that you’re trying to bring the Church into the 21st century and doing more to welcome God’s LGBTQ+ children. I’m also glad that you’re pushing forward and investigating sexual abuse within the church, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done and I hope you never stop pushing. You really seem to embody what it means to be a servant of God and I hope that every person of faith learns it from you.”
I’m not and have never been Catholic so my perception of the Pope is literally just what I read in “the papers,” but the things I’ve read have given me hope for the future of Christianity as a whole. It’s refreshing to see a religious leader preaching love as their central tenet, living “love thy neighbor” and accepting everyone who follows. I have a complicated relationship with religion, but if people can live to love one another, I think the world would be just a little bit brighter.
That’s more than enough waxing philosophical and rambling for one night. Tomorrow’s prompt should prove to be a good one for a short story. I’m so glad it’s finally Friday. This has been a week™ lemme tell ya. Anyway. Have a great day! See you later!
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