Moral fiction

My own notion of moral fiction I'd phrase like this: It is the writer's duty to hate injustice, to defy the powerful, and to speak for the voiceless. To be, as Isaiah was, and St Francis, and Diogenes, and Rabelais, and Villon, and Thoreau and Mark Twain and Tolstoy, to name but a handful, the severest critics of our own societies.

Any fool and coward can rail away at foreign enemies; moral courage implies the willingness to risk attacking those who call themselves our friends, protectors, lords etc. Moral fiction, and moral art in general, must take a part in the apparently endless struggle not merely to keep old ideals alive and functioning, but to prevent evil from triumphing through our tendency to passive acquiescence. We must measure the worth of America, e.g., not by comparing it to Russia or Argentina (those regimes of torture, terror, extermination, which our "authorities" always end up supporting), but by comparing it to what it could be.

—Edward Abbey. "Letter to John Gardner, 5 Apr 1982." Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast.

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