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Something with tears

Sally - dystopia 1

In 1931 a man named Aldous Huxley wrote a shockingly prophetic novel, Brave New World, considered by many to be one of the best dystopian novels of all time. The façade of a peaceful utopia masks a world soaked in hedonism, pharmaceuticals and conformity – a world in which the beauty of culture in all forms is lost, in which true humanity is nearly non-existent. First introduced to the novel in AP English in the 80’s, I found it truly horrifying and amazingly profound (Disclaimer: the novel has mature subject matter). Over the three decades since I read Brave New World for the first time, I have often found myself pondering it and observing how Huxley would have shuddered to see how close we’ve come to his dystopia. I have found that dystopian literature, as well as post-apocalyptic literature (which focuses on a cataclysmic event and the survivors fight to rebuild in the aftermath, often resulting in a dystopia) can be some of the most compelling and thought provoking literature. There is much to be said about these types of novels and this is certainly not meant to be thorough! Rather, this is my attempt at an explanation for those who have requested my thoughts on this topic!

Even if you aren’t familiar with any of the dozens of dystopian novels (which are often, but not always science fiction), you have probably heard the phrase, big brother is watching you taken from another of the most popular dystopian novels of all time, 1984. Other popular dystopian novels include: Ender’s Game, Lord of the Flies, The Running Man, The Time Machine, The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Divergent trilogy, The Giver. For those not familiar with dystopian literature, I found this handy explanation written by Joseph Adams, an editor of anthologies, and coined the reigning king of the anthology world by Barnes and Noble.com: more »

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Finding the beauty

Sally - beauty in snowHave you ever noticed that encouraging others to find the good, the positive, and the lovely and focus on those things instead of the petty, the disturbing, and the tragic is often met with criticism? It is somehow lacking compassion and superficial. Somehow ugly is more real than beautiful. Not in my world! It isn’t always easy to find the beauty that surrounds us, yet it is critical for our wellbeing! As I think about the people that have profoundly influenced me for good, those I seek to emulate, I realize that they share this one thing in common: they live in world where beauty is real, a world where they rejoice each day with thankfulness to God!

Many times social networkers are criticized for sharing the positives more than the negatives. The masses cry out for the ‘real’ – the venting, grumbling and complaining – often in a need for validation of their own feelings. Those who don’t share the negatives are apparently misleading the public about their lives. Somehow, by avoiding grumbling, complaining and venting statuses – one is failing to let others see the grit and grime (literal or figurative) — thus guilty of misleading people about life. Life is perfect statuses are the topic of one diatribe after another. In this reality, pictures of homemade goodies, smiling children, loving couples and written tributes declaring good days, loving friends and happy moments are presented as a façade hiding a life of self-delusion, dark secrets, or (in the very least) superficial reality.

This is my reality. When I take selfies with my husband or children (is it even a selfie if there are others in it?), or post pictures of our baking or our home, or write a study or an article, I am not saying, “My life is perfect! Hear me roar!” I am sharing happiness and joy. I am writing from my heart. I write because I love to write. I write because I love to share.  Sometimes I may share struggles and grit and grime, but that is usually more often when the situation arises and I am speaking to someone about specific issues or dealing with a topic that is weighing on my heart. Venting in prose about petty daily struggles isn’t edifying, encouraging or therapeutic for me and actually has quite a negative effect – it only feeds the wolf within that I want to starve (see Cultivating a Joy-filled Heart). If I have a problem, I discuss it and fix it (with help, if needed) or, if there isn’t a solution, I suck it up and deal. Sometimes it is quite challenging to find the good in the midst of the irritating, frustrating and annoying. We may need help finding it! Find a fellow beauty-seeker! I’m so thankful that my husband is my best friend and helps me when I’m on a quest to find the good (or when I need to be directed to start one)!! more »

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