Dystopian or real life?

Dystopian literature: a story set in the future, of a town or community led under the guise of Utopia

I read a lot of dystopian novels. I love them. Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Lowis Lowry’s The Giver, Joseph Cronin’s The Passage are among my favorite books. They are dark, scary, and eerily believable. In many of these stories there are lies, deceit, and zombie-like creatures that symbolize the death of the rest of the world, that reminds the protagonist and his or her followers that they are alone in the world. Yet while I gain pleasure from these books, sit and read for hours about the world of Panem and the thirteen Districts, of post-apocalyptic North America, a real dystopia is occurring. A real secluded world with no way out, with dangerous enemies right on the other side of the fence. And more often than not, that fence is breached. Welcome to the Congo.


In a cover story of today’s New York Times I read the headline “4-Day Frenzy of Rape in Congo Reveals U.N. Troop’s Weakness”. The article begins with a description of an 80-year old woman’s rape, and then tells readers that at least 200 women (of unknown ages, so we can only assume the worst) were also raped over this four day period. The children that were with the women? Slapped and thrown down, and who knows what else. What’s worse? U.N. peacekeepers were stationed on the street.

I can’t even stand the idea that while I am wearing my cute little dress, sitting in my air-condition office, reading books of pleasure, reading the newspaper at my convenience (with no one censoring my reading materials), being able to say “NO!” and have that stand up in court…someone else not too far away is being tormented and repeatedly raped for absolutely no reason other than to inflict pain and suffering and scarring (and perhaps the permanent illness of AIDS). I honest to God do not understand it. I cannot wrap my head around a world like this. I watched Hotel Rwanda over the summer. I cried, felt hate, but inevitably did nothing because what can I do? I mean really, what in the sam Hell can I do besides read these articles, pray for the innocent people, and write a letter to my Congressman? I am not a billionaire singer like Bono, I am no ambassador like Angelina Jolie.

Next I ask the question of who to blame. Who is at fault? Obviously the disorganized and corrupt Congolese army. (But really, could you focus your efforts on your country while also trying to keep your family safe? At least American soldiers don’t have to worry about their wives and children being brutally abused by their own countrymen.) And then there’s the U.N. They have been there for over a decade, but no good has come of it. Has the world just thrown up its hands and said, “We’ve done all we can,”?? Or does it ramp up its efforts and go in fighting? Perhaps out Secretary of State should go to the U.N. to ask that more reinforcements be sent, but where will those reinforcements come from? America? We may have many of our soldiers back from Iraq, but the war in Afghanistan isn’t over. We have hundreds of thousands of mentally and physically wounded soldiers who we just cannot send back. We need to give them the care and attention they deserve. So whose job is it to help Congo? What can I do? What can we do? What the hell can Bono do besides sing a song?

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