Photograph by Tom Blunt of cover of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Dear Mr. President,
One Friday night nearly twenty years ago, my college roommates went out and I just wasn’t up for it. Hardly was I up for studying either, so I looked over our bookshelf in hopes something would spark my interest. I picked up The Handmaid’s Tale. I put it down only after reading the final page.
This novel struck me as no other ever had. These were my formative years as an activist, a feminist, a believer in equality; Margaret Atwood’s words helped solidify the importance of paying attention to the government and its true impact on its people.
I have often told this story when asked to choose my favorite book (and as a high school English teacher, it happens a lot). Yet what I cite as most disturbing about the novel is not the militaristic government, the destruction of individuality or families, or even (as horrifying as it is) the legalized – and required – rape of young fertile women by their “Commander.”
What scares me most about this novel is just how fast Gilead, the dystopian society of the novel, was created. The adults remembered what life had been. They did not believe every aspect of life could change before they realized every aspect of their life had changed.
As you may know, Hulu just finished its first television season of The Handmaid’s Tale. I was a bit leery when I first heard about this, but upon learning that Atwood was involved and read interviews with the cast, I had complete faith in the adaptation. The show blew me away. I know reading isn’t your thing, but I hope you are at least willing to watch it.
The writers and directors so beautifully integrated the flashbacks of life previous to the regime change. Again, this is what scared me most. Life looked familiar, completely relatable. Little by little the government started intervening; little by little rights started disappearing, namely because the human race was dwindling. Society had destroyed itself nearly to sterility. This is where I truly see the eventual parallel to Gilead: your steadfast push to poison our environment.
Already you have called climate change a hoax despite all true scientists showing the opposite. But it’s not solely your words. Your actions are taking us closer to the contaminated world of Gilead.
Your support of the Dakota Access Pipeline shows your ignorance as to how our actions impact the Earth. How many other places in our country will you be willing to destroy for profit? Land is poisoned.
You propose to cut the funding of the Great Lakes, funding that would benefit those in Flint, Michigan. These citizens – these children – suffer from horrendous amounts of lead. The damage from this lifelong impact is still developing, but children have been showing developmental issues. Water is poisoned.
Then there is your highly disliked choice to exit the Paris agreement. This is not about “massive redistribution of United States’ wealth to other countries.” You just don’t feel the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You refuse to listen, to work together. Air is poisoned.
Without land, water, and air, we have nothing, Mr. President. Nothing.
I will continue to do as I can to sustain our earth, allowing her to work for all of us, but she needs your help too.
Mother Nature, I’m sorry this is happening, yet I also know you’re strong. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.