To some degree, we writers probably all want to change someone else's mind about something, to some degree: politics, religion, social issues, products, how-to's, and many other matters. Even entertainment may turn out to be a mood-changer, if not precisely a mind-changer.
So, which writers have you found who have changed your thinking about something important? What was it about their writing that was effective? Was it a long-lasting change or only temporary?
I started to post this in Haunty's "books that have changed your life" thread. But I'm thinking of something somewhat different from a life change, which could be a matter of fortifying cherished beliefs or opinions. I'm really interested in knowing which features of writing cause someone actually to admit - even if only to themselves - that they may have been wrong about something.
No writer has ever changed my mind about anything. Nor do I have any desire to change anybody's mind.
I have, however, found writers that have worked out the same things that I have and I tend to enjoy reading them because it makes me feel good that there are other people out there that work out the same things that I do.
I write to express my opinions. It's more like a form of inner talking. When it's 'out,' I can stop thinking about it. If I want to refer to it, or if someone asks me something in a conversation, I can refer them to the link. I find this very useful as i truly don't enjoy verbal conversation.
Examples of this are my recent articles on corruption and religious harassment.
I believe it's ethically wrong to try to change other people's minds. I also believe it's everybody's responsibility to point out the path to the greater good for everybody (ethics) and to show how they reached that reasoning using deductive logic and evidence.
I also write to entertain others. This is my gift to others. Yes, I'm trying to get paid for it (well, more than I'm currently paid), but it is, nevertheless, something I consider a gift I am giving to make someone have a better day.
The writer who comes to mind for me is John Grisham. I had actually read a fairly high percentage of all his books before I concluded that he was describing issues very dear to the Democrat Party. Since, over the years, I had developed a very strong antipathy towards that party, it came as something of a surprise to me that I found myself agreeing with what I perceived to be his politics - even though a political point of view was rarely or never discussed overtly.
I doubt that Grisham's stated intent would be to change his readers' politics. He writes primarily to entertain. But his very entertaining novels allow the uninitiated to see inside hidden worlds and then to draw their own conclusions. For me, the most revealing has been the world of mass tort law which, like some other good ideas gone astray, has morphed over the years into something almost monstrous.
But my change of attitude towards the Democrat Party was short-lived, when I once again observed real-world Democrats in action.
Just curious. What is so heinous about Democratic politics. They're in line with European politics. Even the conservative party in the UK is closer to the Dems here than to the GOP.
That said, I've been reading Vince Flynn's books, and he is very decidedly of the opinion that might wins right and that torture is the only way to get info from terrorists. While I've enjoyed his stories, I do not believe I would like the author very much.
I myself would not use the word "heinous" to describe the party politics of Democrats. A lot of my feeling about Democrats began during the Jimmy Carter administration. Many - if not all - of the Democrats in my circles of friends are very big-hearted and compassionate people.
One woman I know (whose politics I don't actually know) is a good example. She was in charge of disbursing funds for the local branch of a charitable organization. She could not discipline herself to turn anyone away when they presented themselves with a sob story - even if the people had a known history of manipulating the system. Under her management, funds that were designed to be given to needy people throughout the year up to and through the annual fall-winter fundraiser only lasted through the middle of February. That is the way I view the Democrat Party in general: well-intentioned, but short-sighted.
The antipathy I mentioned actually derives mostly from the viciousness of national and state politics. I understand that there are people who would lay the blame solely on the Republican Party. I believe both major parties are at fault, but my perception (or opinion) is that the Democrats are ahead in the viciousness department.
However, even though it is interesting to discuss political leanings, I mention mine here only in response to the question that arose from my post about John Grisham. I think more detailed political discussions would do better in a different thread.
Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King changed my view of African American History. I still find publications of speeches and philosophy by Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King moving to this very day. Excellent question Aficionada.
Good observation! I think it is really important to read someone else's history from own their point of view. I know that I missed out on a deeper understanding of history as a child, and reading James Baldwin and Eldridge Cleaver helped me to see another perspective and to grow as a result.
Well, you didn't ask whether authors have changed our opinions overtime. I remember reading 1984 and Animal Farm as a youngster. Personally, at that time, I thought they were well written but politically speaking a load of tripe. I didn't envisage a surveillance state etc. I thought it was pure fantasy. That is not currently my view, I might add. I now see Orwell as...well, visionary.
John Gresham, I've really enjoyed so many of his books, but I don't see him as a Liberal or even left leaning, but an author who is sharing (albeit limited) experiences of the legal profession- Personally, I don't see him leaning one side or the other, just highlighting the hypocracy of the legal profession. I've worked there too, it stinks.
Another great author who is American- actually I think American authors sometimes get a raw deal deal- is Shere Hite and the Hite report on the family. I read this in the late 90's, when I was studying. She didn't change my opinion but she certainly opened my eyes to the society in which I lived.
....And I could go on forever...
"Visionary" - a very apt description. Who would ever have thought back then that the possibilities of surveillance that exist today would become realities during our lifetime?
I think Kurt Vonnegut has a sort of visionary streak too. Or prophetic. Many of his stories are based on the extremes of what might happen in the future if western societies continue in the directions they have been going in.
I didn't see any political leanings in most of his books until some of the recent ones. I forget which one sort of socked me between the eyes - possibly "King of Torts," but I'm not sure. Now, as I'm rereading some of them, I'm noticing little hints here and there that escaped me the first time. Most of his stories have the overarching theme of the underdog struggling against the oppression of a stacked, selfish system, and that is a big issue for Democrats, isn't it?
I think that it's a good thing, actually, that he writes in such a way that readers care about his characters and the injustices they face. I find myself much more ready to be supportive of policies and politics that could help such people, after seeing (even in fictionalized form) the details of what they face.
I never did read the Hite report, although I remember hearing about it. I may need to check into it!
I read 84 in the early eighties..I didn't get it. I'm not sure any of us did.
If I re-read John Grisham's novels, I'd perhaps see now the subtlety of his message. That may be quite a good exercise to re-read, now we're older and more experienced, to see if we can glean even more from the book.
I have to admit I've never read any of Kurt Vonnegut's work. But now you've mentioned him, Afficionada, I'm intrigued. January's reading list, methinks.
Kurt V bored me to tears. I never got what he was on about.
Hollie, You beat me too the punch 1984 changed my mind...I read this book in highschool, my mother actually was very upset because she felt the book "messed with my mind", lol...Reading this novel did actually change the way I think about the world...Another was Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment...I think it didn't hurt that I had a brilliant English Professor who spoke many languages and was a speed reader, He made these novels come alive and taught us how to think outside the box...Almost forgot, Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck...
It's interesting, Tammy, that many of us refer to books we read as young people, and that we relate to them now even more so than books we've read recently. Sophia mentions the same about books we've read when we were adolescents. Maybe they're the most influential ones?. I remember buying a Sex Pistols 7", what we'd call a single. My mother made me take it back to the shop and swap it for a Jimmy Ruffin single "What becomes of the broken hearted"
I find it interesting that I differ so much in my 'writer's personality' from other writers. Many writers that I meet on the web are concerned with feelings, learning, getting critiques, etc. Yet the people I meet in real life (several have had best sellers) haven't really been into that at all. In fact, we hardly ever talk about writing. I take writing for granted. I'm probably more of a reader than a writer. I read for entertainment and information. I honestly cannot think of anyone who has ever influenced me. I don't know whether that's a loss or not.
This is a difficult one.. Did George Orwell influence me, or did his words later resonate when I was older, better educated and more experienced?
When we read a book, are we always ready for the message- if there is one?
You are clearly well read, Sophia. When you form an opinion, is it really just yours, or an analysis of all your reading, learning and life experience?
It's an analysis of all the things I have read, witnessed, and experienced. I also take years and years to form an opinion. Sometimes, when someone asks me something I haven't thought about enough yet, I will just say that I don't know. That's something many don't get. They will say, "But you must have an opinion."
The only thing that might possibly have influenced me, and I'm not sure about it, is that I read most of the classical Victorian and earlier literature before the age of fourteen. So it's possible that my morality and ethics have been influenced by very rigid mindsets. I don't, for instance, think sex outside of marriage is a good idea. Then, again, that's more because when I do the math and plot the path where it will lead, I see it as breaking down society. And then again, it's not a particular author, it's the sum of more authors that I can name. I was reading between two and four books throughout my school days. Once I read 5000 pages in 10 hours. All that information blurred.
I still read three or four books a week. Things blend.
I have been reading his books for years. He has done a couple in fiction, but mostly non-fiction. Topics typically are religion, Christianity, prophecy, atheism, science, discernment, etc. Very well researched, presented and thought provoking. Early on I disagreed with much, but when I sincerely researched and checked for myself, Dave was pretty much always right. Two of his most recent books I highly recommend:
Cosmos, Creator and Human Destiny: Answering Darwin, Dawkins and the New Atheists.
Judgement Day! Islam, Israel and the Nations.
Anyone wondering about current news coming out of the middle east will find the second one enlightening. Dave's presentation from ancient history, through the current day and into what remains in prophecy regarding this is very thorough.
Thucydides changed my opinion on the death penalty. Milton influenced my opinions about God and religion. There are others as well. I think mostly it's a matter of influencing rather than "changing," although, that Thucydides thing was a complete reversal of opinion. A well articulated idea, be it directly addressed or abstractly, can't help but shift our understanding of the complexity of most things (assuming we are not small minded and/or arrogant and think we have it all figured out already).
I don't know if they changed my mind but I was definitely influenced by reading Albert Camus, Jack Kerouac,Kurt Vonnegut, James Baldwin and William S. Burroughs. As well as Edith Hamilton, her mythology books made me rethink religion. They all opened my mind in various ways
These are great and very interesting authors and books that have been mentioned.
My initial thought actually was to focus on situations or times when a book or author has written something that caused one of those dramatic Aha!-Oh-darn! moments, one of those times when you realize you are agreeing with the author, but about something practically the opposite of your own previous point of view. Or, it could be a sudden realization that something you already believed belongs to a different crowd than you had thought.
But, as several of you have commented or hinted, many of us as adults tend to come to a more gradual change of mind than that, with more than one author contributing to an expansion of thought, and so I welcome the mention of writers who have influenced your thought - gradually - as well as those who have changed your mind - dramatically - about some issue.
I'm interested to know more about what it was that contributed to the change. Was it a vivid picture of events that might happen if the world continues on its present course? Sympathetic characters? Clear logic? Enthusiastic presentation of the topic? The author's knowledge?
Isn't it just possible that writers don't change people's minds as much as is thought, that rather it's a combination of experience and information, whether the information is accrued from people, movies, books, or anything else?
I honestly don't think people read books and say, "Oh, wow! I used to think this, but now after reading this one person, I've got a completely different picture." It's not going to happen.
I think when I was younger Joyce Meyers and T.D.Jakes influenced my perceptions on having a healthier relationship. While even lately Bear Bryant has influenced my leadership abilities, but perhaps already had those beliefs to begin with, and just found it amazing he had the same thinking to teach people life lessons. I do write to help others break out of abusive and unhealthy relationships. I'm a social worker, and spiritual person so of course I do care about humanity as well as wildlife and animals. At the same time I know I"m just a messenger. I can not change people's minds, but have the philosophy to be the change I would like to see. Although I still have plenty to learn, and just a leadership geek and life lesson geek at heart! I do not push my views on people and one of the reasons I don't go chasing after followers. I believe who is meant to read my hubs will for what ever reason. I have to disagree with Sophia I've read plenty of books that have straightened out my perceptions of things. Perhaps just depends on what kind of books you are reading, or articles. I have study lots of leadership, spiritual, psychology, and social problems from all over the world. I would have to say what we believe in the U.S. and other countries are not the same, and probably gave me a bigger picture of what life is really about and what God is really about. So I can say your picture can change depending on what you experience in life, and what material you read, as well as listen to on the Internet, You tube, Books etc. I was a small town girl with small perceptions in the last five years I'm totally different because of spreading my horizons all across the board. What I believed back than is not what I believe today, but I purposely searched out the answers to find a more positive happier healthier life.
It may not happen with the majority of people, which is the basis of the next-to-last paragraph in my previous post. However, to say "It's not going to happen" is inaccurate. Perhaps I am the only person I the world who has experienced this, but it has happened. And Shades's description of his experience reading Thucydides certainly sounds very much like the sort of change I have described.
I agree that it can be difficult to sort out the degree of influence from various sources. But there are occasionally those vivid moments when numerous influences merge, triggered by a specific article, movie, story, essay, etc. I am interested in knowing about those, from the people who have experienced this sort of thing.
I think the only things I have experienced is someone has said something that I hadn't though of and it hit me between my eyes. It didn't change my way of thinking. It was just something to be added to what I already knew.
I think I'm incapable of processing information quickly enough for it to change my life in a matter of minutes or days. I take months and years to decide things because of the way my brain works.
This book is recent, but the Kite Runner changed my mind about the war in Afghanistan. It was written by Khaled Hosseini.
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