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One of my relatives said my book, Get on Board Little Children, is Propaganda. An interesting comment, which made me think. Is it?

What is propaganda? Google says: “information, esp. of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.“ Merriam Webster Online says: “ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated, . . .spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government, etc.”

An article titled “Propaganda” by The United States Memorial Holocaust Museum has these comments:
• “[Propaganda] simplifies complicated issues or ideology for popular consumption, is always biased, and is geared to achieving a particular end. . . .In contrast to the ideal of an educator, who aims to foster independent judgment and thinking, the practitioner of propaganda does not aim to encourage deliberation by presenting a variety of viewpoints and leaving it up to the audience to determine which perspective is correct. The propagandist transmits only information geared to strengthen his or her case, and consciously omits detrimental information.
• Not all propaganda is bad. Propaganda is used to shape opinion and behavior. Public health campaigns, for example, can utilize propaganda. . . . The real danger of propaganda lies when competing voices are silenced – and unchecked, propaganda can have negative consequences. . . .”

A book written for the express purpose of pushing a political or other agenda is clearly propaganda. But every author is biased; is all writing therefore propaganda? Is The Lord of the Rings propaganda because Tolkien espoused a Christian worldview? Is Little House on the Prairie propaganda because Wilder held up the blessings of a united family and community? Is Romeo and Juliet biased because Shakespeare indicates that suicide is a bad idea with tragic consequences?
I think we would say not, because these writers presented their ideas merely as an outgrowth of their own point of view, and the main point was the story, the exploration of a created world or community.

We live in a culture that, to a large extent, acts as if we believe that unborn children are expendable commodities, whose worth depends on whether they are wanted by the mother or not. Kind of like lean hog futures, a commodity whose worth depends on their trading value. I say “acts as if we believe” because we do not give support to pregnant women, instead in many cases we push abortion on them as their only solution. Many people don’t believe this is right, but we still act as if we do, we still put up with it in our culture.

My book presents another point of view, the view that an unborn child is valuable in his or her own right, and deserves the same chance at life that all of us enjoy. It’s also fiction, set in the future, and attempts to present the point of view through the behavior of a variety of characters who respond in different ways. Is this propaganda?
It does present a biased point of view, with the goal first, of presenting an entertaining story, and second, of encouraging people to think about the subject, rather than accepting our culture’s viewpoint blindly. In that respect, it seems to me to be in line with the goal of the educator rather than the propagandist; the educator “aims to foster independent judgment and thinking.”

Like Wilder and Tolkien, I attempt to explore a fictional world. I don’t think it is propaganda, as I went where my characters led me. My next book in the Children in Hiding series, Come on Home Children, explores the subject from the point of view of one of the unlicensed children. I will see where that takes us.

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