“I react very badly when mediocrity throws a tantrum of entitlement.” ~ Lee Siegel
It’s been one of those discombobulated days where nothing I planned to do turned out the way I wanted it to. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It makes me go with the flow, a reminder I need often. So, what I had planned to write will have to wait until another day, because it requires much more thought than I’ve got time for today.
This week I finished reading The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling. In my opinion it’s a rather bleak book. There aren’t very many likable characters in it, and yet I’m glad I read it because it shows the wide gap between the haves, in this case the middle class members of Pagford in Southern England, and the have nots, the poor people who live in the Fields, a neighborhood within the Parish jurisdiction.
Rowling begins her story with the death of Barry Fairbrother, a Parish Council member. This leaves a casual vacancy which needs to be filled. At the time of his death, the council had been sharply divided about what to do with the Fields, give it back to Yarvil to clean up and manage, or to keep as part of their parish. We see the effect Barry had on various members of the community. Many people liked and depended upon him. He championed the poor people of the Fields and tried to help lift up as may people as he could. As the story progresses we find out that Barry came from a poor family himself. Because someone helped him dig himself out, he had dedicated himself to do the same thing.
On the other hand, many members of the community have no idea just how devastating poverty can be, and how hard it is to rise above it. To them Barry was an obstacle to getting what they wanted, to be rid of a segment of the population that besmirched the reputation of their community. These are the petty, vapid, vicious people who think that those who live in the Fields are lazy, drug users, or dealers who have no desire to better themselves.
Even though it was a difficult book to read, it pointed out one fact to me. It is extremely difficult to understand the experiences of people who are vastly different from myself. Unless I am able to sit down one on one with someone to hear their story, or read first hand accounts of what they have experienced, imagining what they are going through is extremely difficult.
I don’t want to be like the small minded people of Pagford who hold righteously to their assertions about the people living in the Fields. Scientific studies are showing that poverty isn’t just a choice people make. After a while, it becomes part of the DNA passed down generation to generation. The attitudes of poverty are also passed down. So, the children grow up thinking they will never be able to make their lives better. Those are extremely difficult bonds to break.
Though for the most part, I’ve been fortunate to have a roof over my head and food on the table, there have been times when money was extremely tight and I held my breath praying we’d be able to make it through to the next paycheck. Those times help me have more sympathy for people whose circumstances are far more dire than mine ever was.
In any case, reading this book has made me do some self-examination about my own assumptions and attitudes. For that reason, I’m glad I read the book. Shaking up long held beliefs is always a good thing and I’m on a bit of a mission to do that this year.
Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Welcome to my new followers. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden ©2019
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Only Jenna joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, instead of traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.
The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.