There is a seed of truth in all stories. Even in fantastical tales of flying dragons and slurping aliens, an element of reality gives readers something to identify with.
We snuggle into books, and the more we are immersed in a world other than our own, the happier it makes us. Seeking out pleasure is not a bad aspect of human nature: It inspires us to invent, stimulates social interaction, and encourages food that makes you want to go back for seconds.
But when pleasure takes precedence, we have a problem.
A saying I’ve heard also sounds like a plot outline in a (not so) futuristic story: Bad times make good people; good people make good times; good times make bad people; bad people make bad times.
The term affluenza was coined to explain a malaise inflicting the culture over the last few decades. Materialism led to a form of short-sightedness, a failure to understand consequences of actions and resulting in poor judgment. And what has that led to?
There seems to be a rebellion against reality. Humanity has grown so comfortable that it’s developed an aversion to anything that causes discomfort. Heck, there’s talk of how some day people will be able to plug into virtual reality devices and spend their whole “interacting” with others through avatars. They can create a comfortable world and hide from this one, where, quite frankly, reality bites.
Well, that’s the thing about reality: In the end, it will always win. And if it does so by biting, that’s because folks tried to deny it for too long. There’s a lot that seems kind of bleak these days, that feels like we’re in the depths of some dystopian novel, but it can give us something to look forward to.
After all, bad times make good people.
And that seems to be part of the joy of reading a good book. We get caught up in all the terrible things happening on those pages, and invest ourselves in the lives of people who don’t really exist. But we reach the final page with satisfaction and close the book. And then we return to reality … and hopefully bring with us that seed of truth.
Because it is in reality that seed can grow.