john_j_enright

End of Imprisonment

I have been haunted lately by the ending of King Rat, an old novel by James Clavell. It was a movie too, but I read the book first, so that's what stands out in my mind.

The book is about a young British officer in a terrible Japanese POW camp. He's not the King Rat. That's an American wheeler-dealer who kind of runs the internal POW economy.

What haunts me is the ending. They get rescued. They are miserable, in a state of near-starvation, in a terrible way. Even that's not what strikes me.

What strikes me is that their rescuers are not interested in how things were in the camp. Their rescuers are ready for the former prisoners to move on with their lives. All the power structures and conflicts from the prison camp... simply vanish. The people who were important are now nobodies, and everyone is expected to go back to normal. Not all the prisoners are ready to go back to normal.

I sure am. But a lot of people around me seem to be suffering from some strange malaise that's a bit like Stockholm Syndrome, a bit like Institutionalization, and a bit like Agoraphobia. They don't want to stop wearing their masks. Okay, keep wearing them. But please don't tell me you are still Following The Science. Because The Official Science took a sharp turn in the other direction.

Well, terror can be traumatic. We had a year of media-fueled terror. It's going to take a lot of people a lot of time to get over it. I'm sure there are some who will not live long enough to ever feel normal again.

It is the appointed hour.
We do not need to cower.


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