I’m reviewing a book I’ve never read and probably will never read to make a point about courage and responsibility. Let me put it to you this way: If you see a someone who is injured, what do you do? Do you rush over to help that person? Do you call 9-1-1? Or do you stand back and say, “Hmm, I could monetize this by writing a book!”
The press has been salivating over the juicy details John Bolton has disclosed in his book, The Room Where It Happened. Some would go as far as calling him a hero for being so forthcoming. But he is not a hero.
He doesn’t even understand the song from Hamilton where he lifted the title. Aaron Burr lamented that he didn’t participate in the meeting between Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson where they hammered out the Compromise of 1790. Burr wouldn’t have been satisfied being just a fly on the wall and writing about it in his memoirs.
Bolton’s stories make us wonder what other details Trump’s cabinet and advisors are sitting on that they’re not telling us. What does Mike Pompeo know? Steve Mnuchin? Mike Pence? Ivanka? Are they waiting until their boss is out of office or has shuffled off his mortal coil and joined the choir invisible? And then they can get their seven-figure advances and fill up bookstores and Amazon with their latest eye-opening tell-alls?
As writers, we hope our books do some good in the world, if only to provide readers with a few hours of entertainment. But if you’re in a position of responsibility, taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and assumed the job of serving the country and protecting it from all enemies foreign and domestic, writing a book is the last thing you should be doing. Look at Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman who risked his career by testifying to Congress. He is a real example of courage and responsibility.
And our writing world also has times when we must exercise the same courage and responsibility. Right now, we need to speak out and take action against injustice, inequality, and inhumanity. We shouldn’t do them in hopes of making money and getting gold stars by looking like good people. We must be willing to take risks and make sacrifices.
YouTuber Bookish Realm said in a video all of us white people should watch, “I don’t want allies, I want accomplices.” By accomplices, she means, “I’m talking about people willing to quit their jobs because their jobs won’t do the right thing. People who are willing to lose their lives because people are not doing the right thing.” We’ve already seen that at Red Sofa Literary where three agents resigned in response to a tweet by their owner.
One small act of courage we all can do is to take the money we would have spent on books like John Bolton’s and donate it to organizations that are supporting causes we believe in. We should support those who doing good in the world. We shouldn’t support those who seek to profit off their failure to fulfill their responsibilities.