It was always a small town. Not insular, and not poor—not by a long shot—back when money was a measurement. Those who stayed and those who survived turned out to be decent people. Maybe I was surprised at just how decent, or how capable, or how willing to dig in and do what work needed doing.
Not all of my characters do the right thing. But when they don’t, there are repercussions—not in terms of divine (or authorial) retribution, but in the same terms as life. I don’t see this as being about niceness, or characters putting others ahead of themselves. It’s more about integrity, something some of my characters summon up with ease where others struggle with it. When we live without integrity, we suffer the consequences: greater isolation, with all the lack of resource—emotional and psychological, at least—that that implies; lower self-regard (on whatever level we are honest with ourselves); an extinguishment of a sense of belonging and all-for-oneness that gets human communities through long periods of difficulty and want. In other words, supposedly selfish behaviour actually drags the individual down. We don’t like ourselves as much, and no one else holds us in such high regard, either. And we don’t heal from our wounds, but carry them around sequestered behind our defenses.
This is no joke — / ghosts are real — / as real as economics.