Thursday, March 31, 2011

How Can My Work Serve This World?

As part of the centennial celebration of its founding, Anderson University presented "An Evening With Author Sue Monk Kidd,"  author of the bestselling novel turned movie, "The Secret Life of Bees." The novel addresses issues concerning race, gender, folklore, religion, and ethics in South Carolina in the 1960’s. 
What I recognized about Mrs. Kidd was Southern eloquence at it's best. She was poised, graceful, and sophisticated but demonstrated charm and humility. 
She shared her story of growing up idolizing her father and how her love for storytelling developed through the voice of her father and his love for telling stories. She offered us a glimpse into her life as a child growing up in the deep South and the pain she witnessed first hand while growing up in the 60's, a time of racial hatred and disarray. In less than an hour, she had painted us a picture of the warm inviting home in which she grew up, the tragedy of racism she had so often witnessed, and an understanding of who she was as a young writer and the woman she had become through her love for storytelling.
She offered great insight to take away as writers, students, mothers and neighbors but what I walked away with and what I will remember is what she taught me concerning the significance of the value of our work. She explained how she had always been taught to ask the question, "How can this world serve our work," but she came to a place where she understood that we should invert the question to ask, "How can our work serve this world." She explained in a very delicate fashion how fiction, if written with the intentions of enriching the world, has potential to develop empathy within the heart and mind of an individual. She develops her stories and characters in hope they will serve the reader as a compass to finding home. 'Home' being that of self-worth and a love for oneself, life and others. I was inspired by her expression of a vision to better the world through her work; a world absent of hate between men because of their differences, whether it be ethnicity, social status or belief. 
I have always favored autobiographic and inspirational works but after absorbing Mrs. Kidd's argument that fiction has the potential to create compassion among a generation, my mind has opened up to much greater possibilities.  

So I ask you, "How can your work serve this world?"