The night after Anonymous announced their social media campaign on those guys who would prefer us all to hate our neighbour, I had this dreadful dream that members of the online vigilante group had hacked into the Amazon Createspace server, gotten into my Stroke the Tiger’s Tail file and messed it all around so the words, sentences and chapters where all in the wrong order and the whole book didn’t make any sense at all.
Too easy! I was looking for a scapegoat to blame for any errors in the paperback and now I had an untraceable, loose international association of some of the planet’s best IT minds to take the rap.
I understand that the ability to write complicated, bespoke bits of code is more an indicator of flawless attention to detail than the sort of lackadaisical attitude that leaves all the proofreading of one’s novel to a romantic partner. But it was night, I was asleep, and Anonymous was messing with my head. Ah-ha. Yeah.
Anyway, here is something that requires some attention to detail, but does not require you to be a member of Anonymous, and I am happy to recommend it to you: love your neighbour.
There are a lot of dehumanising narratives going around about various groups of people who are suffering through all sorts of trials at the moment. These words and descriptions encourage us to think of people who are not really all that different from us as outsiders, others and them.
Once we have placed people in the part of our brain that considers them so different to us that we don’t have to love them, it is easier for us to turn away from their trials and suffering, consider their need as something that can be disregarded, searing our consciences towards any further evidence to the contrary.
I lived in Central Asia for a few years and I have a lot of happy memories from that place. I wrote Stroke the Tiger’s Tail because I wanted to recreate the place that is special to me. For a while I wasn’t going to publish the story. Then I realised one day, in the shower, naturally, that I could leverage this story to do two good things:
- I could present people in all their earthy humanity, in their experience of trials and hope. I could offer a humanising narrative amidst some of the more dehumanising ones.
- The royalties from the book could go to physically help people fleeing from those who would prefer we hated our neighbour. Hence my arrangement with Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group to receive all the royalties from the sales. (You can get a copy of Stroke the Tiger’s Tail from my CreateSpace page.)
We all have skills and interests that enable us to love our neighbour in our own, personalised way. What unique things are you doing to love your neighbour at this time?