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Perspective: Maybe it's not as bad as it seems


These days it feels like our society’s fabric is tearing so badly I can no longer read a book like I Cheerfully Refuse. Leif Enger’s dystopian novel, gives me nightmares because it’s too close to what life might be like in the very near future. Enger imagines a world where you can’t hide from the technocrats, who think nothing of murdering a beloved wife, where the grief is palpable, and small-town America is wrecked.

I may close the book, which sucks because his sentences are so beautiful and the story says don’t stop reading now.

I remind myself, Enger’s future is not here. Not now. Even though it feels like the fabric of society is tearing, I bear witness to the quiet heroes: The church lady who watched over a mentally disabled man, who wasn’t related, for twenty years. The lawyer, who should be retired, who works for a state’s attorney’s office defending family services in order to protect abused children. The atheist who mentors a young man through the Big Brother organization, and helps people sort out their finances. The several families who’ve adopted autistic or abused children.

Maybe the fabric isn’t as torn as I think it is. Maybe that’s the joke, that isn’t funny. A joke the extremes chatter in our ears: “Be angry. Be afraid. The center isn’t holding.” Maybe we aren’t as different as the extremes want us to think. Maybe the fabric is holding and our heroes are those quiet neighbors doing good work.

I’m Katie Andraski and that’s my perspective.

Katie Andraski is an author, blogger, and retired composition teacher at Northern Illinois University. You can read more of her writing on Substack at Katie's Ground.