I think people tend to prefer to read sorrows, mysteries, complexities, and hardships more than they like to read about simplicity, love, perfection and bliss. Why is this? Because people get jealous. People don't want to open a book and stew over how perfect and easy the characters lives are in comparison to their own! When times are tough, most people's minds aren't put at ease by reading about how good it is for someone else or other communities. I think the quote "If you can't be a good example you'll just have to be a horrible warning" (Catherine Aird) was inspired by books. Many, many of the books I've read in my lifetime have definitely leaned closer towards "horrible warning[s]" than "good example[s]." 

In books, when communities crumble and things fall apart, the reader can choose to build their own lives away from the rubble they've read about. In a backwards way, sometimes reading about other's failures is progressive because the reader learns that their own struggles will work out. This year, in reading Hamlet it became so clear the need for true communication and trust within communities. There were so many tragic examples of loss in Hamlet which all spiraled from one act of violence: when Hamlet's uncle murdered his father. From reading Hamlet my belief that even the smallest acts of violence can escalate and ruin a community were reinstated. 

Later on, in reading the Interpreter of Maladies I was really stricken by the power of grief and fear to ruin a community or family. Through many of the short stories, grief silenced people and tore them apart, while fear of someone different drove people to treat others terribly. Marital grief in particular stood out, because it brought about so much weariness and bitterness in many couples highlighted in the stories. 

Utopia in particular stood out to me as a "horrible warning" of what could happen if humans lost their sense of creativity, individuality, freedom of choice, expression, and purpose for living to an extreme. I was traumatized by many aspects of Utopia, to say the least, particularly because it seemed so plausible and sensible. I was terrified by the thought that many people would probably read Utopia and think "Wow! What a neat way of solving so many societal problems!" without realizing the new problems created by "fixing" the old.

Pre-revolutionary China, as shown in The Good Earth, is definitely not a "good example" of Healthy Community. History itself shows that it crumbled and led to present-day's Communist China. There was too much sexism, and a huge gap between social classes which resulted for many people in crippling poverty. 

All in all, the literature I've read this year has consisted of "horrible warning" after "horrible warning." The lovely thing about it is how much there has been to learn about what-not-to-do when striving for a Healthy Community. I know that if I extol sexism, racism, poverty, unfairness, hatred, violence, weariness, grief, selfishness, materialism, and dishonesty from my experience it can reflect out on the people in my community and then perhaps the world.
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