In all stages of my life whenever I've been overwhelmed, scared, or when some horror crept in and threatened to overtake me, I found peace in the written word. Disappearing into a world of dragons, magic and daring adventures helped me deal with reality. I could deal with bullies if Meggie could defeat Capricorn. I could deal with the loss of everyday life if war took so many. I could become a better, stronger person if Bilbo found the courage to leave Bag End in the name of doing the right thing. Stories taught me that magic wasn't needed to do something extraordinary. This may seem ironic as I mostly read fantasy but it was the sacrifices of self, the strong sense of will, the bonds formed in love that spoke to me. Not every great deed was rooted in magic. Magic was just a tool. A hammer can build a house or crush a skull. It is up to the wielder.
Were my thoughts this realized at 13? No, probably not. This is what I was realizing without realizing I was realizing it.
Books form minds and carve lives. They can define generations and make countries. A few well written pages can change history. This has been shown time and again.
As writers this means the pressure on us is immense. We are responsible for what we write. We have a duty to write with care. Will what we write change the world for the better? How do we possibly do that?
Write honestly. Write with raw emotion. Don't shy away from the big topics. Develop your empathy and give a voice to those that have been silenced. Bring to light that which has been banished to the shadows. Show something we've all seen in a new way. Some topics are so common we accept them when we shouldn't. By reinterpreting those topics, showing them through a slightly different lens, we can make clear what we have been blinded to.
This is the duty of the writer. This is a duty that should not be shied away from or taken lightly. This is what writers can do.