I cried last night about Paris, about Beirut, about a shooting near the campus I teach at. There’s more than enough senseless violence in the world to break your heart today and for the rest of the week. For the rest of your life. I cried for the victims, and I cried for their families, and I cried for all of us falling asleep with more fear in our hearts than we’d had there in the morning.

In the middle of the night, my son had a nightmare. I was grateful–not, of course, for his worries, but that I could get into bed with him and smell his hair. That I could feel his lungs fill and empty, listen to the dub-Dub of his heart, and soak up the evidence that he, that I, were alive.

Fiction immerses the reader into someone else’s point-of-view. It permits us to share intimately someone’s joys and fears and hopes. As readers we take on a different set of skin with every book we open. And as writers we push past our own experiences to imagine other ways of being in the world.

I don’t know much, but I know that we share a common humanity. I know that mine is enriched by recognizing yours. I know that love is transformative and the world needs more of it. Whenever I’m tempted to turn away from the world, what I need is more love and empathy. Those, and not hate, are the roots of my humanity, and words can nurture it.

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