SURVIVAL: A LITERARY THEME AND PRESENT DAY REALITY by Tina Webb

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Tina Webb
As a child, what was your favorite book?

I don’t remember a particular title, but I do remember the plots and themes that drew me in. Children in Nazi Germany, left alone by imprisoned parents, struggling to survive without being captured; the early books in the Boxcar Children Series in which the Alden kids hid in the woods and miraculously found the practical items that would help them survive.

Survival

Trees

These books both enthralled and haunted me. As I fell asleep at night, I put myself in the shoes of the protagonist of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and imagined what I would do if I were in her shoes. Swiss Family Robinson was a great movie that I watched with my kids, and I quickly put Robinson Crusoe on the list of must-reads when my home schooled children were in high school.

Survival

Self-Destruction

It’s ironic. The other day my husband asked me if I would ever consider wilderness survival training. You can guess my immediate answer. So he’s going to schedule a weekend, and I’m so excited.

But there is also a foreboding in my soul as I watch the news about Iraqi Christians, African children abandoned by mothers dying of Aids or taken by rampaging militants. Sometimes I quickly turn my ears when I hear people talk about food storage and emergency preparedness. Yet I remember 9-11 and the plots of my youth.

Do the fictional themes that captivate us speak to our fears, our prophecies or our desire to escape from present realities? Is the theme of survival innately human, making books like Kidnapped, trilogies like the Lord of the Rings and poems like Still I Rise instant classics in their genre?

All of you are familiar with the cultural adage: only the strong survive. I did an internet search on the origin and found that it is from A Dweller On Two Planets by Frederick S. Oliver. I’m unfamiliar with the contextual reasons why Oliver coined this phrase, nevertheless its popularity has most likely grown out of our human need for death to be overcome by life, struggle to be overcome by victory, and weakness to be overcome by strength.

Decades from now, people will look back into our time at the global, national, racial and moral events that plague the news, inspire songs, and worry everyone. Our grandchildren will examine how well we survived these events…assuming that we survive them at all.

To end, I want to share this verse with you: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I’ll take it God.

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