In the world of novels, editors are constantly quizzing authors about POV (point of view). Establishing POV is vital for two very important reasons.
The first is obvious – a strong POV helps the reader follow the storyline. The second is often overlooked, but it is what separates an average book from a really good one – the author needs to deeply understand the characters he or she creates.
We have to understand their motivation. We must live inside their heads and walk in their shoes. If we don’t have a full grasp on those we create, then our readers will never fully identify with our characters.
While POV is essential for “growing” a good book, it might even be more important for growth in life.
In my childhood, America was a segregated nation. There were schools for white children and schools for black children. Stores and restaurants were divided by color as well. Community housing districts were also cordoned off by race.
During my youth, I can’t begin to count how many times I heard the expression “separate but equal.” The old lie was trotted out every time school integration was mentioned.
Yet, if those who used this conversational crutch had spent a day in one of those supposedly equal schools, they would have noted the poor facilities and out-of-date textbooks.
Then, if they had walked the halls and visited with the students, they would have been forced to realize the only facet of their excuse against integration that held any truth was the separate part. There was no equality.
During his three years of active teaching, Jesus made the establishment very uncomfortable.
Rather than write off people of other races, religions and social standings, Jesus demanded that those doing the judging walk a mile in the “sinners'” shoes in order to get to know their motivations and understand their needs.
This kind of “don’t you dare throw that stone” philosophy led to those in power deciding the best way to deal with this radical teacher was to get rid of him. So rather than listen to the message, they opted to silence the messenger.
When I mess up POV, my editors ask me to redevelop my characters. That is a good practice for life too.
If you are so settled in your ways and traditions that you have no room for those who are different, if you believe you don’t have to associate with the modern equivalent of the woman at the well or the Samaritan, if you don’t have the courage to challenge your convictions and your prejudices, if you think you should only live in a world where people agree with your POV, then you are likely not employing Jesus as the editor of your life.
Those who preached “separate but equal” were cowards. It terrified them to give up power and control even if they knew it was the right thing to do. And while they were nothing like Jesus, many used his name to justify their POV.
Let’s hope we are all a bit wiser and more ready to hear “the editor’s” words in 2013.
Time to toss out the old, antiquated thinking, take a dose of courage, expand our world and grow!
Ace Collins is an author who has published numerous fiction and nonfiction works. He is a member and deacon of First Baptist Church in Arkadelphia, Ark. This column first appeared on his blog, Thoughts from the Left Side of My Brain.