Six years ago, almost to the day, I was asked to create a 3-page comic for a magazine. The assignment was to make something challenging – even provocative. I chose to make the story an answer to the age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”.
The premise was that the Shaarei Tefillah (the Gates of Prayer) are closed. In essence, I used those Gates as a symbol of the Age of Miracles having come to an end. We’re told by several religions that our culture exists between an epic past and an epic future. Are we bored and eager?
Fiction has us in the doldrums between epics, too. J.R.R. Tolkien’s saga is set on this world – just 6,000 years in the past. Magic and epic was leaving Middle-earth. I recently read someone’s opinion that magic was alive and kicking even after the events of The Lord of the Rings. Although I’m not Tolkienist enough to argue, I will say it’s been a long while since I’ve seen a spider that wasn’t dwarfed by pocket change.
The opinion, however, stands to show that people Want their magic and will defend it. Tolkien’s suggestion that Arda (Earth) would face Dagor Dagorath (the End of the World) means that defense may be Pyrrhic-Cadmean and ultimately Sisyphean.
If the majority of arrows point in the same direction or aim at the same target, what is the point of other arrows? I am not writing (this blog or the stories it may mention) to be defeatist, pessimistic, or nihilistic. Quite the opposite. Therefore, the Second Law of Magic is: All magic is permanent – at least in my fiction. Any subsequent magic gets stacked on top to either counteract or augment the initial intent. But that first magic will always be there. (Yes, I can hear the arguments about entropy already. The answer to that is: Remember, this is magic.)
So… what is a good person to do when a bad thing happens? I would begin with Shaarei Tikvah (the Gates of Hope). Sola Spes (By Hope Alone).
Hope + Compassion has been my definition for Minimally Human for at least the last 15 years. For about the same amount of time my motto has been, “The only raw material required to manufacture hope is time.”
And “minimally” may not be fair. Achieving that combination is often a high enough hurdle.