Posts Tagged ‘current events’

I’m going to try to keep this post short, because it’s very late and I should be in bed right now recharging for tomorrow’s labors. But I got caught up in the writing and ended up finishing a short story this evening. And as is my habit, I have to write a blog post about it. Some things you just can’t stop me from doing. And at 13 pages and 3,352 words, this is one of the shortest short stories I’ve written in–damn, I don’t know how long. Maybe high school. Maybe ever.

Malkah, for those of you who aren’t aware, is the Hebrew word for “Queen,” and it plays a bit of a role in this story, about a pair of Jewish parents who lose their daughter to a horrific act of anti-Semitism. One of the parents goes the extra length to ease the pain, with horrific consequences.

If you read my last post, you know I’ve been a little on edge lately from the rise of anti-Semitic incidents I’ve seen in the news lately. Between that post and this one, I saw another one about a man trying to run over Orthodox Jews leaving services on Saturday with his car. Needless to say, with the subject matter in this short story, I channeled some of that uneasiness and fear into my writing. Whether or not that made the story any better is up to the reader. Still, I feel it taps into fears we all feel at times, especially when it comes to our loved ones.

And if the editing process goes well for this one, who knows? I’ve got my eye on a particular publication I’ve tried getting published in a few times in the past. Perhaps they’ll like this one and want to publish it. And if not, there are always other fish in the sea (or publications searching for stories). And I feel the work I’ve been producing lately has been of a higher grade than usual. Perhaps some of it stands a chance.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll take a day or two to relax from all the marathon writing, and then get into my next short story. This one, I’m sure, will leave quite a few people disturbed. Hell, it disturbs me just thinking about it. Given my tolerance for scary, I think that says something.

Well, I’m off to bed. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

I was having a comment conversation the other day with another blogger Caitlin Kelly, a freelance journalist from New York who at the moment is teaching at the Pratt Institute. Her post, which you can read here (and I highly recommend you do), was about how the effect of all the horrors going on in the world and being reported to us by the media. I mentioned in my comments that after digesting all the real horrors, it’s not uncommon for me to immerse myself in fictional horrors. Caitlin replied that one of her students, who “has seen his fair share of horrors”, also prefers the genre of horror. I said that for some people, horror acts as a kind of therapy.

Now, some of you who are reading this will probably be thinking “Horror? As a kind of therapy? We’re still talking about the genre where serial killers can be heroes, what trait your character embodies can determine whether you’re killed or traumatized, and fans debate on how good a movie is based on use of suspense, special effects, and gore, right?” Yes, we are still talking about that genre, but just bear with me.

Look at a news feed, particularly one devoted to global events or major issues facing Americans today. This is probably what you’ll see:

  • ISIS murdering Shiites, Yazidis, journalists, and anyone else that they don’t like.
  • Ukraine fighting both its own people and Russian insurgents.
  • Hamas attacking Israel and Israel firing back (and it’s only a matter of time before that starts up again, mark my words).
  • Several cases where police have shot and killed unarmed black men, with the most recent and famous case in Ferguson, Missouri.
  • Congress’s constant squabbling and bickering
  • An immigration crisis that continues unabated
  • Ebola spreading throughout West Africa and father beyond
  • Kristen Gillibrand, a well-respected senator and possible 2016 presidential candidate, being sexually harassed by older, male senators
  • The suicide of Robin Williams and the hurtful responses from people and groups such as Westboro Baptist Church, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, and Gene Simmons (my article on that is here)
  • CeeLo Green making horrific remarks on the subject of rape on his Twitter account
  • Justin Beiber is in trouble with the law again.

Depressing to read, isn’t it? What’s worse is that this is only the tip of the iceberg. All over the world, people are facing discrimination, violence, poverty, illness, corruption, greed, incompetence, and just about every other horror under the sun. And these problems are huge, multifaceted, and difficult to resolve. In fact, there are many people who may have multiple opinions on how to resolve just one of these issues. And assuming that the people in positions of power are able to come to an agreement and implement some sort of solution, there’s no guarantee that the issue in question will be fully resolved or not or will leave lingering micro-issues that will eventually grow and become major issues in their own rights.

“It’s true, I got defeated by some snot-nosed brats. I don’t like talking about it, though.”

There’s that. And then there’s the stories told within a horror novel or the latest scary movie. Let’s take Stephen King’s IT, for instance. The antagonist is a shape-shifting demon that can take on the form of your greatest fear and prefers the form of a clown. Well, that looks tricky to defeat, but it isn’t as hard to pin down or as multifaceted as an insurgency group or a virus or children brought to this country illegally fleeing violence and poverty. And guess who defeats It? Seven kids. They face their fears, band together, and defeat the monster in its own lair as kids, and then most of them come back as adults to finish the job. And after they’ve fought It for the second time, It’s dead. It isn’t coming back in any form ever again. Sure, at the end of the book the characters start to lose their memories of their war with It, but the story ends on a happy note.

In this way, horror stories–fictional horror stories–can act as therapeutic. We see very real versions of hell unfolding at home and abroad, and then we dive into a story where the characters are fighting their own hell. And we know deep down it’s fiction, but we don’t care. We sympathize and empathize with the characters. Occasionally we even recognize ourselves and our own brutal, tortured pasts in one or two particular character. And we see them defeating demons, exorcising ghosts, kicking serial killer butt, solving murders, and sometimes even bringing back the dead! Sure, plenty of people die in these stories and a good number of them end up traumatized by their experiences. But they usually defeat the enemy, they come out of the conflict stronger, and they sometimes even find romance.

What a horror novel can do for us.

And that fills us with hope. We think to ourselves, “Sure it’s fictional, but I see myself in these characters and the problems they face. So if they can take on ultimate evil and defeat it, what can I do?” In essence, horror takes the feelings of depression and jaded cynicism out of us and fill us with possibility and optimism. Weird, I know. These are stories that aim to scare us and fill our dreams with terror. But horror can do that and lift up your spirits too.

Horror is certainly one of the things that can lift up my spirits when I’m feeling down.

Has horror ever made you feel better after you’ve been feeling down? What happened? Why do you think you felt better afterwards?

This afternoon I found on my news feed that another college, this time Seattle Pacific University, was hit by a gunman. Details at this point are still few, but what is known at this time is that one person has died, three more are in the hospital, and that the gunman was disarmed by students while reloading his gun.

While I’m glad that nobody was hurt, I have one question: is it enough yet? Because it’s only been a couple of weeks since Elliot Rodger went on a shooting spree in his black BMW, killing 7 people around UC Santa Barbara because, as he said in a very creepy YouTube video, “girls aren’t interested in me”. And these are just the most recent: Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech, the Sikh Temple, and even more that I may have missed. The point is, we have a serious gun problem here in the United States, as well as a serious opposition to seeing any sort of change to try and stem the bloodshed. In fact, only a couple of states have enacted any sort of gun legislation, such as background check and limitations on ammunition or automatic rifle bans. Other states have actually made it easier to get and carry guns around, and the federal government has bowed to the pressure of gun lobbies so that no legislation has gone through on that part.

Look, I know that as a nation the United States is slow to do things that are vital to protecting the health of its current and future citizens. Our healthcare is still tied for 37th place worldwide, our welfare system loses funding every year as well as our education system, and the road to environmental reforms designed to stop climate change is like climbing a mountain sometimes. But honestly, we’ve lost so many lives to gun violence in so many years, and every time, everything from the media to lack of God to making gun pictures in school is blamed, but guns are not. Legislation dies, the news moves elsewhere. And every time the event repeats, more people shout “Enough is enough! We’re tired of this!”

Indeed we are. And we’re tired of the rhetoric against gun control. “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” If that’s so, do toasters not toast toast, but toast toasts toast? “Gun laws don’t work, because people will still break the law to get guns.” And people will still buy meth even against drug laws or run red lights against traffic laws. Maybe we should get rid of law altogether. “We have a Second Amendment right to guns.” That amendment was written when the worst you had was a hunting rifle, that rifle could get your family food for the week, and the state might call upon you at any time for a militia. Not to mention that a handgun does just as much damage to an intruder in your home as an automatic rifle, which is actually worse for hunting than just a regular rifle. And you know what else is a right to us as Americans? Freedom of speech, but the Secret Service will still arrest people who say they will kill the President or anyone else in high office.

Look, I’m not saying that we should lock away every gun in the United States and only let the military, police, or the government handle them. But I think some common sense laws would do a world of good. Several other developed nations have gun control laws, and remarkably, their levels of homicides and suicides with guns are much lower than that of the United States. Surely we can do the same and be even better at it, if the USA really is the greatest nation in the world?

Or are we going to let some more shootings happen? Where will they happen next, I wonder? Perhaps one will happen in my backyard, near where I live and go to school. Or one will happen on Capitol Hill and scare the bejesus out of every senator around. Or maybe at another elementary school! The point is, the way things are it’s very easy for these shootings to happen at all these locations and more! Airports, grocery stores, office buildings, subway systems, libraries, apartment buildings–stop me anytime!

None of us want this to happen again. But unless we enact some long-term change, gun violence will continue to be a constant problem in our nation, and will claim the lives of so many more. And that’s something we just can’t keep allowing if we’re to continue on as a country, especially one that the rest of the world looks to a lot as an example of what it means to be a superpower.

Oh, and I just want to mention one more thing: two girls, much more influenced in their crime by violent media than any other killer I’ve seen so far, nearly murdered their friend after stabbing her 19 times in the name of Slender Man. I garauntee you, if she was shot with a gun even once, she probably wouldn’t have survived. And the man who attacked a bunch of children in China with a knife around the same time as the Sandy Hook massacre? All of those kids survived too. Just something to chew on.