Why Do I Write? The Importance of Using Our Voice
I've been thinking a lot about a movie I saw as a child: Powder, perhaps not a great film, but the impact it had on me was powerful. I like this description I read on Wikipedia: "[Powder] questions the limits of the human mind and body while also displaying society's capacity for cruelty, and raises hope that humanity will advance to a state of better understanding." The main character, Powder, is a sensitive young man who has the ability to conduct electricity, emotions and energy in general (bear with me, keep an open mind). I identified with him in the way he perceived the world and in his sensitivity but I desperately wished I had powers like him, and there was a very strong reason for that.
In one of the most famous scenes from the movie, a group of men hunt a deer. During the poor animal's last living moments, Powder acts as a conductor between the deer and the man who has shot him, making the man feel in his own body the pain and terror the deer is experiencing. Later on, Powder claims he only did that to help the hunter see, as he wasn't aware of the harm he was causing.
I remember watching that scene and thinking, "I wish I could do that too. I wish I could help others see". Because I was born sensitive, I was very aware of others' emotions, especially their pain. I didn't just see it, I felt it. When I saw others causing pain, I felt that pain within me and tried to show it to them... to no avail. They knew what they were doing but when you don't feel others' pain as your own, it's easy to disconnect from it. How could I let them see —no, not see, feel the harm they were doing?
It took me many years to accept you can't change anyone and it took me even longer to understand other people simply... don't feel things like I do. We are all built differently, each brain a world of its own. But that doesn't mean those of us who are able to feel things deeply should keep quiet. It means we have a powerful story to tell.
Perhaps I can't make people see what I see and feel what I feel but I can speak of what I see and feel. I can use words and images to paint a scene that describes the reality I perceive. Isn't that what we all do, after all, with songs and books and films and paintings? With the stories we tell to those we love in our daily life? Don't those make us see and feel?
This is the reason why I write. Using my voice is my way of contributing to the world, of attempting to bring more harmony in the face of destruction. This is the driving force behind what I do, behind every word I write. I want to leave this world better than I found it, one word at a time.
Writing is my medium but there are many ways to share stories. Some people are now using technology to go one step further and help others immerse in someone else's experience. Example: this video showing what it feels like for some autistic people to have a meltdown. Animal Equality also use virtual reality to bring consumers closer to the animals they consume. Here actor Peter Egan leads us into a pig farm and here actress Evanna Lynch places us in the middle of a dairy farm. We can only begin to understand someone's experience once we put ourselves in their shoes.
I once participated in a virtual reality experience that attempted to bring awareness to climate change. It was more than simply watching scenes with a VR headset: I could touch things and walk through rooms where the temperature changed depending on the scene portrayed. In one of the rooms there was so much humidity it was almost difficult to breathe. It made the experience very realistic. Here you can see a trailer of the project:
With technology rapidly changing, my guess is it will become easier and easier for VR companies to make us feel things physically while using virtual reality, just like we've seen in movies like Ready Player One. Perhaps my desire to get people to feel will become a reality then. For now, words are all I have. They are the tool I will keep using to defend this world and all its inhabitants.