It’s easy to be intimidated by mean people. See through their mask. Underneath is an insecure and unhappy person. They are alienated from others because they are alienated from themselves.
Have compassion for them. Not pity, not condemning, not fear, but compassion. Feel for their suffering. Identify with their core humanity. You might be able to influence them for the good. You might not. Either way your compassion frees you from their destructiveness. And if you would like to help them change, compassion gives you a chance to succeed.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book Happiness,p.179
I’ve already talked about Toxic Fear, the extreme Us vs. Them mentality in our nation that begun in during the Obama administration, and that has been greatly exacerbated during the Trump administration, all in relation to the WorldCon implosion and redemption, particularly given THIS and THAT point of view.
However, it was the quote from Rabbi Pliskin this morning that gave me a different perspective on Sad Puppies vs. the Hugo Awards thing.
Part of the inspiration for crafting this essay comes from fellow blogger Joy Pixley’s report of her attending WorldCon 76. She had a pretty good time, and in my discussions with her, she didn’t see any (or at least not much) evidence of bias at WorldCon. However, she did notice a number of Christians and religious Jews in attendance, and no one mobbed, beat, harassed, or otherwise attacked them for their faiths.
Now speaking of bias, it seems female authors swept the Hugo Awards for the second year in a row. Interesting, and statistically a little unlikely, but as I said before, the Hugo Awards are absolutely not designed to be fair and objective.
I know that sounds harsh, but really, only a tiny handful of people are able to nominate works for the Hugos and then vote on them. Click the link to learn more.
That means, while the Sad Puppies attempted, for good or for ill, to “unbias” the awards, or at least force the bias in a different direction so that more conservative, religious, authors and works would be considered, it was never going to work because of the nature of the Hugos and WorldCon itself.
Rabbi Pliskin nailed it in defining the thoughts and feelings behind both the Sad Puppies and that element of people within the Cons who oppose them. Both are vying for significance and both are fearful of losing or never acquiring it. I have that feeling myself as a white, male, conservative, religious, old man who wants to publish SF/F tales that people will buy, read, and enjoy. Will I be shut out?
Maybe not as much as I once thought.
Women swept the Hugos for the second year in a row. Why? Were their stories objectively that much better than male writers across the board? Possibly, but remember, the Hugos aren’t objective. They can’t be. Ever. The pool of voters is too narrow and not representative of the wider body of SF/F readers. If that pool of voters felt on a visceral level or even a conscious, intellectual level, that women were too often discriminated against in such awards and in SF/F authoring, they may choose to bias for female authors.
Obviously, I can’t prove that, but given the aforementioned implosion of WorldCon, it’s a reasonable hypothesis. SF/F authors who are women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, or other disadvantaged populations historically have experienced a lack of significance generally (either real or perceived) in this venue.
As the bias of WorldCons, the Hugos, and the wider world of SF/F Cons shifts to balance what they may perceive as historic social injustice, then male, white, Christian, conservative, authors may experience the threat of a lack of significance, the feeling that we’re being edged out of the market.
Two populations of SF/F authors who feel the threat of a lack of significance. Something has to be done. So they go to war.
What about the rest of us? I’m not sure I am part of “the rest of us.” I think Joy Pixley is, though I don’t know her except online, so I may not have a true perception of her. After all, I’m in that potentially marginalized group of old, white, religious men, so maybe I should feel threatened.
What’s the alternative?
Ideally, the two “warring” populations and their allies, should sit down at the same table over coffee or beer and hash things out. Are they really all rabid, vengeful social justice warriors dedicated to wiping out religious, conservative males, and are we all rabid, racist Nazis dedicated to keeping the SF/F genre all to ourselves because of our so called “white privilege?”
For most of us, probably not, but perhaps there are a few running around out there.
But as long as neither side beats their swords into plowshares, then the war will go on and on and on.
[EDIT: I removed the paragraph about Israel vs. Arab terrorists because as ProclaimLiberty rightly pointed out, the analogy didn’t really fit]
But if one side doesn’t stop hostilities, the other side feels like laying down their weapons is the moral equivalent of suicide. You have to trust the other side not to rip you to shreds if you’re the first to offer an olive branch.
In other words, if the “SJWs” stop attacking the “Nazis,” then the Nazis will win and horrible things (real or imagined) will happen.
If the “Nazis” stop attacking the “SJWs,” then the SJWs will win and horrible things (real or imagined) will happen.
What a perfectly twisted little conundrum.
I’m in no position to tell anyone else what to do with their lives, who to love, who to fear, who to hate, or how to act, but I am in control of my own life. I have free will.
So I’m going to meditate on Rabbi Pliskin’s words relative to my being human in general and a writer in specific, and see where that leads me.
Yes, there will always be people who hate me because of who I am, but maybe they’re a small, vocal minority who can and should be ignored.
And yes, I know I’m probably going to piss off a lot of people on both sides of the aisle with this one, but as the proverbial baseball umpire often says, “I calls ’em as I sees ’em.”
Oh, I intended to write this for Tale Weaver – #185 – Phobias – 23rd August, but their word count limit is 500-600, and mine is well over 1100.
By the way, the fear of alienation or lack of significance maps closest to Autophobia.