This is the summary page of a series of notes I wrote to my daughter Elizabeth.
I am going to paraphrase a discussion – part of an ethics in documentary film-making panel – I recently attended. One speaker pointed out Immanuel Kant’s philosophy that one should never lie – under any circumstances. The only acceptable alternative to lying was silence. The speaker pointed out the misconception that people interpreted that to mean they should always speak what’s on their mind – not the truth of it, and not the silence. He pointed out that doing so didn’t provide a great deal of truth, just a “great many assholes”.
His point was that those in the media have a responsibility to find and speak the truth, not merely opinions. In a media culture (and I include all media here) that deals in opinions, I find that notion refreshing. Writers have a responsibility to speak their truth or be silent. And avoid mere opinion and the resulting anatomical description of the writing. The challenge of course is distinguishing between the clearing-house of opinion and the deeper truth of any situation.
I also recently attended a Walter Isaacson talk on his writing career and his latest book ‘Steve Jobs”. He told a story about his mentor telling him, “The South produces two outstanding kinds of people – preachers and storytellers – and we already have enough preachers.” His point was that a good writer is first and foremost a good storyteller.
When we combine these two things, we find ourselves with a storyteller who finds and speaks the truth.
And that my dear is as good a place to end as any I could find.
Find your truth and tell a story.