I have to begin by saying I am not a fan of Margaret Atwood’s books. I did, however, recently read her seminal novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, because it seemed apropos given the current events we are witnessing. Moreover, it’s been years since I attempted one of her works. Since my brain has been rewired by chemotherapy, my taste in literature has changed slightly, along with my sense of smell.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a relatively short work, and I can see how many who may have read it in high school were shocked by it. Maybe it was a good thing that I waited until I was on the doorstep of 50 to read it. Not much shocks me anymore, but when “speculative fiction”, as Ms. Atwood likes to refer to her genre, becomes reality, you stop and scratch your head for minute. Your eyes go wide and you say to yourself, hey; this shit is really happening.
Realistically, women aren’t at the point of being submissive handmaids, yet, and society has not become the fictional, theocratic Gilead that Atwood describes. Yet. We are, however, as close to that concept as we have ever been. Our government has morphed into a shambolic band of clueless idiots, and it seems that the American populous has taken it as a cue to behave as crudely as possible. Let’s look at some recent examples:
On Sunday, April 9, an unsuspecting passenger was dragged off a United Airlines flight from Chicago bound for Louisville, Ky. because the flight was overbooked, and the airline needed seats to get a flight crew to that destination. When enticements of vouchers weren’t impressive enough, the crew picked four passengers to vacate their seats. The gentleman in question who refused was manhandled by airport security, bloodied and knocked unconscious before horrified passengers who were recording events on their smartphones.
Concurrently, Wells Fargo, one of America’s grand old banks, is trying to save face after the huge scandal of opening countless fraudulent accounts for unsuspecting customers. The bank is now attempting to get back about $75 million in stock and monetary compensation from its former CEO and another executive who tortured bank employees in an attempt to meet unreachable sales goals. I know for a fact that this sort of activity has been going on at banks for decades, but with today’s technology, there isn’t much that can be kept secret. Still, the hubris of CEOs, and other abundantly compensated employees blinds them to the fact that there isn’t much they can get away with now. Still, they manage to perpetrate fraud at levels that surely have Bernard Madoff seething with envy.
Speaking of seething, I cannot even bring myself to contemplate the recent attempt made by Congress to overturn the Affordable Care Act, thinking it was perfectly within its purview to snatch health insurance away from 24 million Americans, among other atrocities.
And finally, today, on Passover no less, Press Secretary Sean Spicer shoved the trunk of a giant Sequoia tree down his gullet by exclaiming that Hitler never used chemical weapons to kill people. I’m sorry, Margaret Atwood, you can’t make this stuff up; it actually happened!
As I sit here wondering where we go from, “HItler didn’t use chemical weapons on his people”, I am completely gobsmacked by these events. I’m seriously not sure whether I need to flee the country or eat myself to death. Ignoring it will not solve anything, and will make me just as complicit as the 60 million idiots who voted for Trump.
It has certainly been an interesting few months. It pains me to admit that everything I’ve been reading and witnessing is taking an emotional, as well as a physical toll on me. I don’t think I can stand four full years of this nonsense. Dystopian history is being written right before our eyes. Authors don’t need to fire up their imaginations to write this crap; it is unfolding without prompting from a publisher or editor, and certainly not as a breakthrough from a constipating case of writer’s block.
You can’t make this shit up, folks. And every instinct I have tells me it will get much worse before it gets better. I hope I have the strength to keep fighting.