Friday, January 11, 2013

What happens when passions run so high that common sense and civil discourse are impossible?

In The Submission, author Amy Waldman takes on that question.  A memorial to the victims of a terrorist attack in New York is being planned 10 years after the incident.  A jury reviews anonymous submissions for the design and chooses a winner.  When it is revealed that the winning designer is a Muslim American, passions erupt fueled by an aggressive press.

In the hullabaloo that follows, civility and common sense are lost, vision wavers, positions change, intentions are swamped in chaos.

Waldman tells her story through specific characters including members jury, representatives of the victim families, reporters, political leaders, political activists, and the designer.  Everyone has an agenda and everyone weighs in.

In the end...well, you have to read it for yourself to see how it ends.

As I read this book, the tragedy of Sandy Hook happened and quickly propelled us into a discussion of guns and gun control and that discussion has become wildly overheated.  This book tells a good story and offers a valuable warning.  We all need to pay attention to how we are manipulated, to who is pulling the strings, and to what we have to gain or lose.  Most of all, we all need to dial it down a notch.

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