Never Stop Loving
Written by Anita D Russell
Dystopia. A word that conjures up dismal visions of the future, loss of freedom, oppression, mind control, and a loveless existence in a technocratic or militaristic society. The first dystopian novel I ever read was Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day. My mother belonged to a book club during my childhood and I had a constant flow of books to choose from, particularly during my pre-teen years, and develop a passion for experiencing the written word. In the course of reading, I discovered a lot about myself.
One thing I discovered is that I always fall on the human side of the dystopian spectrum, rejecting that loveless, technocratic, militaristic existence, mainly because of a three cord strand, running the course of my life, consisting of creativity, freedom, and love. As I grew and matured, observing life unfold around me, I created a perpetual list of things that I would never do.
So, how on earth could anyone reject the idea of reading or the creativity of human expression in the written word as depicted in Fahrenheit 451? When I saw the movie, that question became so profound as I realized that I would inevitably be one of the “book people”, choosing to live on the outskirts of society, resisting the new rule of law, cherishing the books locked away in the library of my mind.
Added to my list of things to never do—never extinguish my passion for reading nor squelch the beauty of human creativity.
Currently my dystopian focus is on The Handmaid’s Tale, where women are stripped of their identity and enslaved. Human rights have been severely limited but women—classified as Wives, Aunts, Marthas or Handmaids—have been stripped of all rights; owning property, working, financial independence, and even reading, are forbidden.
A fertile white woman is designated as a Handmaid and used primarily for reproductive purposes (think Hagar in the Old Testament). From my perspective as a woman, here is where I feel the impact of the loveless existence the most. The birthing ritual includes the Wife, the pregnant Handmaid and a cheering section. The Wife goes through an imaginative display of labor pains while the Handmaid goes through real labor and gives birth. After the umbilical cord is severed, the newborn is immediately given over to the Wife with no expectation of emotional attachment from the Handmaid.
I get a feeling of profound sadness for the women forced to give up their children, not be choice, but by rule of law; it reminds me of slavery in America. I think about giving birth to my own two lovelies, experiencing an undying sense of love. I think about my grandson, a handsome nine-year-old, and the love I have for him, passed generationally through my daughter, creating a legacy that will continue when he one day becomes a father.
Added to my list of things to never do—never stop loving.