Saturday, August 06, 2005

Much ado about nothing?

The recent events at the RWA Conference award ceremony have lots of people talking. Today, a woman I respect greatly posted on a private loop that we should keep perspective. Think of all the horrible things happening in the world: children molested, wives beaten, soldiers killed, etc.

I agree with her. Withso many tragedies in the world, anything that happens in my life is not going to compare with someone fighting a deadly disease or starving to death. That means when my students cheat and turn in plagiarized papers, why should I get up in arms. There's a lot worse out in the world. When the government appoints someone to a major position that I think is unsuitable, why should I make that much of a fuss. After all, people are being tortured somewhere. When my family is blackballed by people in our hometown because we don't share the same political views or belong to the Masons or go to the 1st Baptist Church, why get my panties in a twist. Remember, there are people living on the street with no shelter in the cold or heat.

I say this in all seriousness. This is all true. When compared to events around the world and in our own country, many of the things that upset me and get me riled up are fairly insignificant to the grand world scheme. However, I cannot control the world. I cannot prevent flood, famine, or death. I can only make the best of my life and the things and people I care about. So at times, I'm going to be concerned when an organization I am proud to belong to takes an inappropriate step (or steps, recently). If this group, to which I pay significant dues each year, begins moving in a direction I don't like because I think it will damage our professional credibility and status (not because I dislike it personally), then I have the right to speak out and demand we make changes. We might not be able to fix what has happened, but we can investigate what went wrong and make sure it doesn't happen again.

Some people are saying that it is a minority of people who are upset at the presentation. However, I think the number is greater. These are people with a variety of political beliefs, so their concern isn't about which president got more pics or who was degraded. Their concerns are about the negative nature of the presentation on a night that is supposed to be a celebration. Because there IS so much tragedy in the world, it is nice to have an evening that celebrates the good things. Do we think that having a montage of tragic events set to upbeat pop music will make us more aware or concerned about the plights of other? I think it belittles them.

As has been said so often: this was to have been a night of celebration for RWA's silver anniversary and an evening to honor writers in our organization. How would you like the images displayed just before you were announced as a winner to have been the death of Princess Di? The scandal of Clinton and Lewinsky? OJ Simpson?

This is something to take action on. And it isn't the regular complaints about how long and boring the ceremony was. Yes, people are going to disagree about things. But how can anyone honestly say that playing "Don't Worry, Be Happy" as tanks roll into Tiannamen square (and over many student protestors) be anything but a disaster? It only underscores the stereotype of romance novels as being pure escapist fiction with nothing substantial behind them.

That's not the image I pay RWA to promote. That's not the kind of books I like to read.

And I think it is much ado about something.


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ABD, Associate Professor of Language Arts & Humanities at an Oklahoma 2-year college; web site designer; devoted aunt to Lauren.