By Scott Bury
“May you live in interesting times” is often identified as a curse. And while the current time is fraught with fear, division, violence and illness, it’s also interesting.
Not to belittle or dismiss the seriousness of the crises affecting people. The hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world, the millions of cases of covdid-19 and other illnesses, the violence and fear felt in cities across the U.S. and other countries.
Not to mention the tens of millions of people, men, women and children living as refugees around the world. People living in war zones, people working in unsafe mines and fields and factories.
Crises have a way of putting stresses under a magnifying glass, of making strengths and flaws more apparent.
But these times are also interesting because it’s clear our society is at a crossroads, a point of choosing a path.
Maybe it’s more like flocks of birds that somehow maintain cohesion as a group, while each member is flying its own path. Each one responds to its own perception of threat and opportunity and the wish to remain a part of its group.
People don’t act much different from this. Each of us choices each of us make in response to threat and opportunity, and our desire to be part of a group.
The question: How will this look from the future?
What we historians make of this time?
How will fiction writers describe it?
Will the novel coronavirus pandemic bring long-term changes in social behavior and norms?
From a more light-hearted perspective, will it change romance writing? Will masks become seen as a normal part of human interaction? Will deciding to get closer than two metres/six feet become a regular part of a developing relationship?
On the political side, will the coming days see people choosing the path of reconciliation and unity, or deeper divisions?
Too soon to tell
It’s impossible to write meaningfully about the direction of shifts in society and politics from the middle of it.
But journalists do write meaningful analyses from the midst of crises. Here are just a few examples:
- Jack Reed’s Ten Days the Shook the World, written during the Russian Revolution of 1917
- Ernest Hemingway’s The Fifth Column, written while he was covering the Spanish Civil War Michael Maclear’s The Ten Thousand Day War, about Vietnam
- George Packer’s The Assassins Gate, about the Iraq War, written in 2005
The list goes on.
Still, we will need some perspective to know which path society chooses. There will doubtless be some elements on both paths. And we won’t know for some time which will prevail.
And no doubt, these books, fiction and non-fiction, will be interesting.
can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”
The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.
Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.
He has two mighty sons, a pesky cat and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.
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