by Rain Trueax
Something has been on my mind. We, in the United States and most of the developed nations, live in a safe period of history. If you look back at history, you see wars that swept across people's homelands, along with plagues and famines. Those could decimate whole populations.
As mankind has learned more, diseases have been taken on, and in some cases conquered. When I was a girl, my parents feared having us swim in some rivers because polio was a very real risk. Then came the Salk vaccine, and polio has been all but forgotten for what it once meant-- unless you have a family member who had been touched by it. Iron lungs, what do people today know of that horrid but lifesaving device?
Of course, there are still diseases that come upon us when we aren't expecting them. The end result though is that is random even when DNA or environment might be a factor. So is violence.
We live in a time when most of us have no reason to fear a conquering hoard appearing on the horizon, but we can be in a movie theater or at a political event where it all changes. We can hear glass breaking and know our home is being invaded. It is the reality we live with-- random violence.
As a writer, I might think about such things more than most, as random violence occurs in some of my books. There does not have to be a seemingly logical sequence leading up to it-- such as would be the case with a violent family member or workplace employee. Random violence happens, and it comes from out of nowhere.
Today, more than at any other time in my lifetime, is there anyone in the developed world who doesn't turn when they hear a loud noise to assess from where it came? How about going into a mall or theater and not looking for exits if there was a fire or an attack of some sort? We don't not go. We just go alert.
Even as a child, I was taught about bad people. I was in first grade and attended a country school with no buses. There was a mile and a half to walk, half of it often with neighbor kids. One day there weren't any with me, when I saw a vehicle approaching. I began to run. Then realized it was my father. My grandmother, his mother, was with him and later chastised him for making me feel that fear. Was he wrong?
A few years later, I was walking by myself in Salem when a van stopped. The man leaned out the window and said he'd give me $5 if I would help him find an address. I said no and kept walking. He drove off, and I wasn't far from my aunt's home. If I had not been prepared by the possibility of random violence, how might that day have ended?
My belief is we can't avoid everything. but we can and should be aware, alert to what's around us. We can listen to our instincts. Forewarned is forearmed. I put that philosophy into all my books as part of their theme-- along with some other issues I feel matter. Fiction is about events that didn't actually happen-- but that doesn't mean it can't teach something valuable for quality living.