There are a lot of different ways to make a revolution.
I’m pulling this from memory, and Google wasn’t helpful, so forgive my errors. But there’s a story I’ve heard, about the five men who meet on a road. The kingdom is repressive, and the men are fearful. One of them says, “We should not be here, it is forbidden.” Another replies, “We have nothing to fear.” The first says, “What do you mean?” The second man replies, “The penalty for the five of us to meet is death, is it not?” The frightened men agree that this is the case. The man explains: “The penalty for rebellion is also death. We are already condemned men for standing in the road. So what more do we have to lose?” And so the men gather their fellow villagers and rebel against the kingdom.
My dim memory is prompting me that this is a story from China, but the idea holds across cultures. I try to remember this story when I am setting penalties for my kids. If I am too harsh, if they lose too much no matter what they do, then what motivation do they have to even try? Nothing will let them win.
I don’t want to steal their hope.
I find the stories in Apex this month to be remarkably hopeful. Depressing, and wrenching, and not comfortable, sure. But hopeful.
Maybe it’s just me.
…No, I don’t think it’s just me. I think there is something important, something powerful, in narratives of struggle and rebellion. I think we humans can better see the possibilities in our world when we have imaginary maps to guide us. Stories of rebellion are stories that teach us how to think past those things which constrain us.
I am not the world’s best problem solver, personally. When I face a difficulty, my mind slides into the familiar grooves of “what I did last time,” or, “what worked before.” I have trouble confronting new challenges without some sort of guidance. I ask friends, I do research, I look for hints and suggestions. But I am not a soul who easily creates new terrain in the land of the unknown. I need the guide that fiction provides. I need the map of the possible.
I suspect that some of you appreciate the cartography of fiction in your lives, as well.
Read issue 62 of Apex. Let the anger, sadness, hope, and rebellions herein give you a fresh look at the terrain of your own life.
Best of luck to you.