Over the past few days, I have developed an acute but powerful appreciation for my ability to read. I watched Donald Trump’s inauguration. I listened to his dismal speech. Yesterday, I was heartbroken as I watched him begin to repeal back the march of progress in America.
And then it hit me.
Suddenly, I became keenly aware of how familiar this seemed. Suddenly, I realized that I had seen this all before, experienced it in another lifetime – a lifetime shared with millions of people around the globe. Today, I realized just how hard the world’s authors have been trying to warn us and how much they have been diligently writing to prevent.
A few weeks ago, I had a debate with someone who dismissed dystopian fiction, particularly the Hunger Games. He called it stupid – an absurd book filled with melodrama. He claimed that he didn’t understand why a book needed to go so far to discuss an issue when history and our current realities are more compelling and horrifying than the imaginative predictions of pessimistic authors. I agree with him. He is right. There are many times where reality trump even the gloomiest fantasies.
But today, when I heard that 1984 was flying off the shelves again, I realized that there are important lessons we can learn from our authors’ loaded predictions. Today, I learned that if we are not careful, these works of fiction will become our history books.
If we are not careful, then process of Orwellian “historical revisionism” will become a global reality. We must not forget. We must not submit to gaslighting. We must resist the temptations of doublethink.
If we are not careful, then the bodies of our women will become the property of the state and Offred’s story will become a reality as chilling as the most brutal stories of sex slavery. We must protect our women.
If we are not careful, the Horn of Plenty will trumpet above the rich of Panem to mark their prosperity and ignorance while signalling the return of slavery, the starving of our children and the destruction of society in the name of entertainment.
And if we are not careful, if we let down our guard and allow incompetence to thrive; if we do not stand for what is right, true, honest and good, then the only question we will have left – the only question we will all have a right to ask as we listen to the last sputter of the Motor of the World…
…is “Who is John Galt?”
2 thoughts on “In Defense of Dystopian Fiction”
2017 feels like stepping off a cliff. Maybe there’s a ledge, maybe the parachute of checks and balances will work, or maybe we aren’t much better than we were in the past. That’s the scary bit. Not being able to trust to our progress.
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I know how you feel. Whenever I wake up, I feel like I’m living in a fantasy. Even the people who are usually pretty optimistic are exasperated as they watch on. We can only hope for the best and hope that our worst fantasies really do not come true.