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Over the past several years, I’ve watched WorldCon repeatedly implode.
Well, not exactly. It imploded in 2018 in a very spectacular way. WorldCon 2019 didn’t exactly implode, but then again, Jeanette Ng’s “acceptance” speech of the John W. Campbell award (now renamed “Astounding”) was her long awaited stab at a long-dead science fiction icon which spawned more of her displeasure at the “stale, pale, male crowd,” as well as a long list of other award renamings. The irony is that Ng also won a “Best Related Work” Hugo for 2020 because she complained about Campbell the year before. A rant wins you a Hugo. Who’d have thought.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, famed writer George R.R. Martin was accused of racism at the totally tanked WorldCon 2020. On top of that, the World Fantasy Con in the same year wrought its own disasters. If you read those blog posts, you’ll see the collection of “usual suspects” who complain about everything and anything that’s even a hair out of place compared to their high and mighty expectations.
The most interesting response was the first one, from David Weber (makes me think of Jason Bourne’s original name “David Webb”) as posted on his Facebook page on February 19th and quoted by Glyer the same day:
Interestingly enough, the article I found as a pingback to Updexnews.com used the phrase “racist history” as part of the link when referring to my Silverberg article, and I hadn’t intended to call Silverberg a racist (really, I’m shocked I haven’t gotten even a single piece of hate mail yet).
On this twitter account, I found the following image posted prominently. It was the first indication I had of yet another WorldCon social purging by the righteous (yes, I’m being snarky…I’ll explain below).
First off, I’ll state for the record, that because I’m even mentioning Jon Del Arroz‘s (yes, he deliberately makes himself a lightning rod for controversy) name and daring to write something with a social and political perspective not shared (necessarily) by Democrats, leftists, and progressives (those words are not synonyms), that at least one person will be vocally upset with me here on my blog.
I suspect that a lot of other people who regularly read my fiction will simply not respond because A: they like me and what I write, and B: they think that I’m a nice enough guy not to be flamed for expressing unpopular opinions.
Anyway, I did read Del Arroz’s article which starts out:
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.
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.
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.
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin – Found at the website promoting the book “The Light From Zion.”
Fear of failure is a prime cause of anxiety. People think, “If I don’t succeed, I am a worthless failure.”
Someone who fears failure is not willing to take the risks that are an essential ingredient in every new undertaking. This prevents him from taking action in many situations in which he could accomplish a great deal.
If someone accepts that his intrinsic worth as a person is never at risk ― even if he does not succeed at a given task ― then he is likely to try much more to accomplish.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book “Gateway to Happiness,” p.131
Every morning, I get an email from the Jewish educational organization Aish.com containing, among other things, quotes like this one. Although I’m a Christian, I tend to “resonate” more with Jewish theological perspectives. Since lately, I’ve been discussing some rather negative trends in the world of SF/F relative to events at the recent WorldCon convention in San Jose, I thought I should provide a counterbalance. We should define ourselves by our best qualities, not by who or what we oppose.
So I thought I should start providing a quote from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin on this blog every morning that I’m able (next week, I’ll be taking a trip and may be offline for a few days). This is probably more in line with my religious blog My Morning Meditations, but I think it’s needed here.
Perhaps it will convince some people that the world of religion isn’t always evil or hateful, and that there may be a profound wisdom, kindness, and joy inside the hearts of many who have faith in a power greater than human beings.