Nearly a century ago in 1939, The Wizard of Oz brought us a tale of a girl, Dorothy, who was lost and afraid in a strange land of munchkins, witches, tin men, flying monkeys, crystal balls, dark fortresses and Nazi soldiers. Her fears were quelled when she and her odd friends found their way along the yellow brick road to a dazzling city, led by a larger-than-life wizard who helped her friends find wisdom, courage and heart and finally bring Dorothy back to the safety of her own home (no matter how dismal it was).
This story illustrated the real life fears we had at a time when World War II had just erupted and evil was lurking around every corner. And--to the delight of viewers--the film helped us alleviate some of these fears with a happy ending that was just a click of a pair of red ruby slippers away.
This is not true of the current stories and games that fill our fantasy plate of today. Instead, our fears are inflamed by an explosion of entertainment that brings us zombies and demons with the widespread annihilation of humans in the form of plagues, nuclear apocalypse, and other assorted evils and served at a deep personal level.
In the Walking Dead series, zombies multiply by attacking their victims and infecting them through their saliva to become part of the growing "undead" that matches the reality of the AIDS epidemic. In the Hunger Games trilogy, the dismal dystopian future makes apprehensive teenagers pawns of a dictatorship that forces them to fight to the death against their peers. It stirs a revolution and a counter-revolution that result in severe physical and psychological damage to its victims. There are no winners, only losers, in these dystopian worlds.
Unlike the Wizard of Oz, this wave of demonized entertainment does not provide a yellow brick road to a safe haven nor help us return to the peace and happiness of our homes. The question arises about why these dystopian visions do not have an equally balanced path to survival and salvation. After all, it is still escapist fiction. Why not let us escape to a positive scenario? Perhaps it's because the metaphor of zombies today is more real than fantasy.
In real life, we all know of people who are zombies. They are the people who suck the positive energy out those around them. They have vices that reflect their inner demons and take actions that lead to real-life plagues. The result is increasing pain in the world in the form of despair, hate, poverty, drought, illness, ignorance, and the least of which is conflict and war.
These seven global trends, documented as the seven beasts in the novel The Last Scroll, are the most prominent problems we currently face in our world. They are particularly disturbing since most studies point to the fact that they have all increased since the year 2000. We also know that these modern plagues of the world--particularly war--are promulgated by the real-life zombies who live among us and often become leaders of industry and nations.
Right now, there is no world war, but the United Nations report nearly 50 wars that are fought in the world involving over 20 percent of all independent nations. Furthermore, with the military budgets of all nations increasing among both developed and developing nations, the arms race is heating up to benefit only one group-- to stuff the pockets of the arms industry. The current conflicts are simmering, and with increasing military capacity, our worst dystopian nightmares may actually come true. These are atrocities that we hear about everyday in the news sources across the globe--most recently Ukraine--and we cannot deny them.
It brings up another old tale: the Tower of Babel. Like the people in Oz, they sought to build a shining tower that reached to the heavens using their sophisticated technology, political structure, economy, and material wealth to create a perfect world, a utopia, a crystal City of Oz. But the higher they built the tower, the more problems they found in their structure, and it began to collapse under its own weight and complexity. The higher the building went, the further they strayed from their foundations of peace and happiness. Yet, continue they must, because their whole way of life was now built around its construction.
Eventually, they found themselves so far divorced from reality that they woke up one day to find each group speaking different languages--a metaphor for the breakdown in communication, consensus, and collaboration. Maybe we have the same finale for our civilization. Are the plagues a sign that our world is beginning to crumble?
Be not led to despair: this story also points to the great irony of the times-- an all-consuming effort to build our tower to the heavens when heaven can be found all around us in the life we live. Like in The Wizard of Oz, a growing number of warriors are being inspired to work for a better world. Warriors are everyday people who, through their positive energy and virtues, are working to reverse these trends and prevent the plagues.
Each person has the potential to be a warrior by boosting their own positive energy in each of the seven realms of our lives--the mind, body, emotions, lifestyle, spirit, society and environment--and spreading it throughout the world. Maybe we all can be warriors by following the strategies in The Last Scroll to discover the blessings of life, to prevent our crumbling Tower of Babel and its dismal future and instead achieve enlightened states of wisdom, healthy lifestyles, open societies, international solidarity, responsive healthcare, respect for human rights, sustainable environments, peaceful co-existence and many more idealistic pursuits.
Maybe if we make use of a wise and accountable blend of science and technology with compassion, generosity, and spiritual insight, it would lead the way to not only avoid the worst of our past, but build on its best prospects for the future and achieve a more utopian vision of the good life for all.
The Wizard in Oz--despite turning out to be a wayward traveling salesman--inspired the people to rise above the witch's grasp and live a better life. In truth, it does not always take the leaders in a nation to do this, but rather everyday people, our warriors, whose daily actions and decisions will reverse the plagues of our society.
By simply following a life of blessings, anyone, including zombies, can enhance and spread their positive energy. If a majority of people does this, we will solve these plagues and create a positive future for ourselves and our children. But these dystopian changes of the world, led by hordes of zombies, will not change if we sit idly by and let the world deteriorate. For as Gandhi says, "Be the change you want to see in the world." It is all about our energy.
James Fricton is an author, researcher, and professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of the novel The Last Scroll, an intelligent romantic thriller set in Italy. He will also teach a free online massive open online course (MOOC) in May 2014 through Coursera.org featuring the concepts in The Last Scroll to enhance positive energy and prevent chronic pain. The author lives in Minnesota with his family.
For more information, visit http://www.thelastscroll.com and https://www.coursera.org/course/chronicpain
The Last Scroll
A chance meeting with an old classmate leads Ryan Laughlin, a dedicated young physician, to an ancient Roman spa in a medieval village of Italy where researchers are studying two remarkable events that could change the course of history--a new technology that claims to measure the essence of life itself, the human spirit, and the final Dead Sea Scroll which was recently discovered in the West Bank.
To the surprise of all, the Last Scroll reveals universal truths about the nature of life through seven Blessings but warns of seven Plagues of the Beast that are emerging this century causing alarm and protests around the world.
"The Last Scroll"
by James Fricton
Hardcover: 460 pages
Publisher: iUniverse.com (February 14, 2013)