“Fairy Tales don’t tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy Tales tell children that dragons can be killed” Criminal Minds paraphrasing of GK Chesterton
I am not the biggest Criminal Minds fan nor do I read gobs of GK Chesterton but this quote has been sticking in my mind recently.I remember the first time I read Tolkien. Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit told Gandalf the wizard that he thought an attack by dragons might be good for his fellow hobbits. He did not mean it maliciously. He meant that it might wake them up, stir them into their better selves. I sometimes think the same thing when I turn on the news. I think, you know, an attack by dragons right now might be just the thing to pull our collective heads out of our backsides. But I don’t mean it anymore than Bilbo Baggins did when he said it. I write to defy my despair in hope that maybe, one day, the evil dragons can be killed or at least caged and kept away from us. In my stories, I can face the dragon.
Each day some new horror will raise its head and ask us to please “come and see”. We look. We do nothing. Our humanity fades. Something tantamount to a demon army is marching across the Middle East beheading and defiling everyone who holds any slightly different view than the demon. You would think that would unite most of the world. You would think we could all agree that people who behead babies are not very nice people. In fact, shouldn’t we be well beyond the point of tolerating any beheading? Medieval terrorists with iPhones – it sounds like bad science fiction.
In the Dark Ages, when people wandered across the ruins that were once Rome, I wonder what they must have thought. Ignorance kept them from their history so they could not even envision the thriving civilization that preceded them. Too few were taught how Rome rose and fell in on itself. Revisionists are doing their best to separate you and I from our history. Most of us don’t know to fear the Dark Ages, but it would not take as much as you think for those times to repeat. Imagine a sickly child happening upon the remains of Notre Dame or Windsor Castle and only wondering if there were food or if shelter could be had in those ruins. Imagine a woman hiding by the shore and seeing the statue of liberty sinking in the harbor, its torch barely visible above the tide. Neither the child or the woman will know any of our names, not yours, mine, not any kings or presidents. They will be as in the Dark Ages a thousand years ago, hungry, ignorant, and afraid. They won’t know to blame us.
Children are taught lies baked in half-truths, the media spins reality to suit a diabolical totalitarian mind-control ideology, and people believe the propaganda their favorite celebrities spew at them. They like it because it keeps them from seeing the world on fire as Nero once more plays his symphony and encases them in an invisible prison. They can comfortably argue that it is ok to rip a baby from its mother’s womb and tear its little body to pieces as long as it is for science. They may know the Nazis were bad, but they won’t hear you when you tell them the Nazis made that same argument. They may say that the cartoonist that was shot to death had it coming. He knew these people were violent. Why provoke them? There is no marker on their life map that tells them “Here There Be Monsters”. So although they may walk right past those monsters every day, they never see them. They are surrounded by forces pointing them away from the real monsters. Most of the time its the monsters themselves, those proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing pointing them away from the truth so they believe as long as they say the right things and don’t cause trouble, someone else will slay the dragon.
Perhaps this is why I write post-apocalyptic fantasy…in hopes it never comes to pass.