Saturday, August 10, 2013

Noticing Today's World

Part of writing involves becoming an observer, which can lead to introspection.  I witnessed an experience that made my mind wander (this post is a little rambling too, I know). Change comes fast in both easily observable, and less noticeable, ways. I'm aware film has been taken of warfare since at least the U.S. Civil War. My neighbor showed us army surveillance from jets bombing Iraq in Desert Storm. So I shouldn't have been surprised at what happened.

This week I was at the lake house where the extended family gathers once a year. Coming indoors I found all the guys surrounding a computer. One of the young men had come back from Afghanistan late last year. During his tour he watched his son's birth via live streaming video. I'm sure it was the highlight of his tour. He came back with other videos and he was showing the guys one. It was about one of the missions he took; one where a team was wounded and later died.

This was the point where my mind started wandering.

My Dad was in WWII, and looking back, I believe he had PTSD. I've talked with my brother who was in Vietnam, and he agrees as he returned with many of the symptoms Dad had. Memories haunted them. With all the film coverage our returning soldiers have available, will having copies of their missions help them recover from emotional trauma faster or not? It's often hard to remember the country is still at war. Most of us don't pay much attention, even the news media isn't giving it much time, and yet this young man will have a record for as long as digital film lasts, which may mean as long as electricity is available.

It's also not discussed much that The War on Terror is a crusade. In 2001 President Bush said, "This crusade - this war on terrorism - is going to take a while." (Daily News, 2001) The first crusade also happened when the millennium changed, in 1096. I expect ours happened so soon because we move much faster. Yet historians often note that those years ending with extra zeros are often followed by decades of turmoil and fervor. Remember the 2000 scare about losing your computer as it wouldn't be able to keep time? Digital technology has changed the world. We put every emotion and event on You Tube and other social media. I don't think I'll live to the next change of century let alone millennium, but curiosity sometimes consumes me. What will happen?

As writers, we know the setting can make or break a story, and it's these social and technological changes and human reactions to them that writers include in their contemporary novels that help create interest. After all, Jane Austin's novels became time capsules for life in the early nineteenth century.

Available from Champange Books
Rhobin L. Courtright


Big Mike said...

When I was working on my thesis for one of my graduate degrees I became enveloped in the wonder of General Systems theory. At the core was the similarities between and the ability of complex systems (societies, economies, the human body, etc) to adapt and evolve.

A key factor in their survival is the ability to thrive in a changing environment. One of our course studies was the affect on technology on humanity, and whether we'd survive. An author names Toffler coined the phase FUTURE SHOCK and released a book by the same name. If you're interested in the impact such changes are having, check out his and related books. I read it about 25 years ago and he was dam close on some of his predictions.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I recently heard a radio report about the families of military warriors. The nine-year-old boy talking about the constant changing of schools, always the new kid, and never knowing exactly when he would see his father -- and in some cases the kids have two parents in the service -- burst into tears while giving brave reports. They have PTSD, too.

I believe that writers engaging their memories are reliving, in PTSD form, the emotions that make their readrers cry.