The piece I'm working on right now is giving me some trouble in terms of opposing points of view. I don't want the characters to be entirely black and white, because that would bore the reader. So, I've been casting around among my friends on facebook to look at how their friends approach different issues.
What I discovered truly shocked me. I suppose by now I should be use to the idea that some people are blind to the problems of others, and so self-centred that they feel no duty to assist their neighbours, but I hadn't realized how far into the mind-set of centuries gone by some people had gone.
When pejorative epithets like "undeserving poor", "free-riders", "greedy unionists", "whiny women", "eco-terrorists", "lying scientists" and others spout unchecked in the posts of some who espouse unbridled capitalistic growth, and when these speakers are thick on the ground, there is true cause for worry. Even moreso when they love their wallets more than their fellow humans.
So many of these cardboard characters seem to be Evangelical so-called Christians, many of whom seem to have forgotten the original purpose of their religion. Not much about charity, sharing, and duty to others there. It's all about greed and preventing anyone outside their narrow circle from sticking their hands in the pockets of the chosen few. For such people, while they await the "Rapture" it doesn't matter a damn what we do to the planet and each other in the meantime. Magical thinking isn't thinking at all. But it certainly does appeal to some.
Evolved principles like justice and equity have no place in the closed minds of so many today. Whether they're radical religionists, political fascists, corporate graspers, or just plain greedy and selfish, they seem to be lacking in compassion, vision, empathy and love -- but the main characteristic they lack is a sense of humour! And surely the first and best trait of people is our willingness to see the ridiculous and to laugh at ourselves? How has humanity managed to breed a whole generation of humourless sociopaths?
All this is very discouraging, and isn't getting me any closer to my original problem of character development. I suppose only reality can tolerate such flat characters as we see around us. For fiction, I'm going to have to blunt their edges with a few more palatable traits, and allow them a few glimpses of someone else's point of view.
It's certainly not going to happen in the real world.