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Let’s call it Dystopia

Posted by Didi Gorman on

By Didi Gorman Didi Gorman, Wise Choice Market's blog writer

A few months ago I was reading a historical novel set in seventeenth-century plague-ridden Europe, told by a fictional young maid who loses her father, as well as her job and the family’s only income, to the disease.

I remember marveling at the author’s ability to capture the essence of what it must have been like to live in a poverty-stricken, unsanitary, tight European inner-city in the 1600s, under quarantine, with daily news of rising death-tolls, no access to medical care, and food shortages. The graphic depictions and the horrific portrayal of uncertainty and fear left me squirming. When I finally managed to lift my eyes off the book, I needed a couple of minutes to find my bearings, reminding myself, with a sigh of relief, that what I was reading was only fiction. Luckily, today we live in a modern world, I reassured myself. Medicine, technology, and science have advanced in leaps and bounds in the four hundred years since that dark period in history. Still, I remember wondering, if only in a fleeting thought, what it would have taken for similar events to occur in real life today.

Oh, well. Fast forward two months. Those far-fetched descriptions now seem uncannily realistic: city centers turned ghost towns, checkpoints imposed by police, food shortages caused by mass-panic, curfews, rising death-tolls, the looming social chaos, and with it, the premonition of spiralling into a murkier – and more extreme – version of reality. Only the other day a guard was brutally attacked outside a store here by an angry customer flouting social distancing rules. Who would have thought we’d get to this? To the unsettling realization that we are not as safe nowadays, not even in a country as peaceful, prosperous and secure as Canada? Who would have thought the butterfly effect was such that we wouldn’t be able to leave our house in April in Canada just because someone had messed with a bat in December in China? Is this one small, seemingly-insignificant occurrence in some remote town on the other side of the globe all it takes to alter our existence beyond recognition?

For lack of a better term, allow me to call this dystopia.

One lesson to be learnt is that novels, as imaginary and outlandish as they may seem, could sometimes, in an unpredictable turn of events, pale in comparison with real life. Think about it.

Take care.