Monday, April 21, 2008

Controversial Subjects by Peter Nennhaus

Suppose you wish to compose a writing on a contentious or controversial subject. Perhaps you have unconventional ideas in religion or about your own country, thoughts you know may be seen as offensive by some readers. How would you approach it?

First of all, you must be convinced of the correctness of your thesis and your right to express it. Next, it is helpful to be tactful about it and express your ideas the way a friend speaks, one who does neither lecture nor reprimand, but rather who gives advice to his brother and tries to convince rather than rebuke. Thirdly, do your research before you speak up. That would certainly include the honest assessment of your opponents’ views. If possible, seek to discuss the subject first with those who think differently, for a serious dialogue is likely to make you improve your own thoughts. I like such a discussion better than a debate, as a debate is dishonest. It is a one-upmanship type of contest aimed at finding not necessarily the truth but the winner, as we witness presently in the political debates in an election campaign. In other words, I personally prefer such a writing to be done in a spirit of honesty and goodwill. Not that such goodwill will forestall angry counter-attacks, for sure enough they will be launched at you. But, again like in political debates, it resembles the difference between a dirty campaign and a nasty campaign.

Being controversial will only rarely lead to universal acclaim, if ever, but fear not, you will have left a mark that others may carry further. Thinking outside the box may certainly lead to ridicule, but it is the basis for progress, too. Without it we would have never built a computer or walked on the moon.

For more info on Peter's book go to his website.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Great post Peter. You've provided some excellent advice for writers who wish to approach controversial topics in their writing.

Good luck with the rest of the tour.