Unless It Moves the Heart


 I best remember Roger Rosenblatt for his passionate journalism in the Kennedy Book Award winner "Children of War." His original reporting for this book served as a cover story and series in Time magazine beginning on Jan 11, 1982. The articles were pure, hard-hitting, beat journalism. Almost too harsh to digest. But I remember this book differently; I remember images of hope, forgiveness and resilience. Given the opportunity to write more deeply after his initial reporting, Rosenblatt offered us the chance to share not just the hardships that these children endured, but also the beauty of their souls, and their surprisingly hopeful perspectives on their circumstances.

Roger Rosenblatt is still writing. He's become known for his lucid meditations and unconventional memoirs. He says he does his best thinking while walking, and he believes the best place to start writing is from a memory. He even has a handbook on writing called “Unless it Moves the Human Heart."

Here is an excerpt that seems to relate to what we are all trying to accomplish in our journeys, on a smaller scale - as we try to make sense of what happened to us, and seek to reclaim our lives. I think this applies to survivors like us, as well as it applies to aspiring writers:

“To be the writers you hope to be, you must surrender yourselves to a kind of absurdity.
You must function as a displaced person in an age that contradicts all that is brave, gentle, and worthwhile in you.

You must believe in heroism and nobility, just as strongly as you believe in pettiness and cowardice. You must learn to praise.
Of course, you need to touch the sources of your viciousness and treachery before you rise above them.
But rise you must.
For all its frailty and bitterness, the human heart is worthy of your love. Love it. Have faith in it.
Both you and the human heart are full of sorrow.
But only one of you can speak for that sorrow and ease its burdens and make it sing—word after word after word.”

Roger Rosenblatt, "Unless it Moves the Human Heart"