jenny.psdWhile writing my latest book, Rose’s War, I have had to take a hard look at the questions that vexed my heroine. Her natural aversion to injustice, her horror of abuse, the frustration she experiences from her own inability to redress the balance, and her confused emotions about the consequences of those actions she takes to redress these conflicts, have, by proxy, been my emotions over the past year.  There is a lot of me in Rose Hubbard, although our lives could not be more different. As I have battled with Rose’s dilemmas, I have been asking myself what  I might have done in her place. It made me question just how much we are the products of our past? How free are we to control our lives? Do we all have the ability, and the potential, to rise above our circumstances and forge our own destiny? Indeed, are we all faced with similar conflicts despite our diverse paths? If so, why? If life is such a lottery, why was I handed a lucky ticket?

My life, to date, has been charmed: comfortable, safe and enjoyable. Is this a mere consequence of geography, good timing, fortuitous alignment of the stars? Was I simply born in the right place, at the right time? Is it  just luck? I hope I am a reasonably nice person. I have my faults, but don’t we all? I’ve done my share of charitable deeds, thought kindly thoughts and led a law abiding, decent life. So I’m sure have many others, born at the same time as me. Yet some of these, equally good people, have been forced to live their entire lives in a war zone, or, despite working themselves into an early grave, have watched their children die from lack of food, or the absence of clean water. There are many of my generation who have never enjoyed a day free from fear of atrocities carried out by factions beyond their comprehension and way beyond their control. Why?

Being an atheist, I  assume there is no grand plan, no fixed path along which we progress. I reject the concept of a higher being, leading us to an ever more enlightened world. There certainly does not seem to be any sign that the human race is becoming more caring, more spiritually aware. In fact, at times the reverse is horribly apparent. Religions still divide us. We continue to enslave our fellow man. Wild life is hideously, needlessly threatened. Countless men, women and children live lives of unspeakable degradation, cruelty and hopelessness. And the planet itself, struggles to breathe because of our selfish, hedonistic desires.

I have often said that my particular generation, born in Britain just post war, has been privileged, one might say charmed. My education was excellent and free. The NHS has seen me safely through two life threatening illnesses. My teeth have been drilled and filled and there has always been a safety net of state assistance should I need it, fortunately I never did. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for all this bounty…but I have to ask why me? I am not the first to ask this. Nor will I be the last. Many wonderful organisations have battled against inequality for decades, for centuries, supported by people as perplexed and horrified as me. Yet nothing changes, not fundamentally. Refugees flee for their lives, slavery is endemic, children are recruited to soldering, prostitution and crime. Drugs pollute entire generations. Wars are fought to satisfy greed, conceit and religious bigotry. The names of the tyrants, the nations who rise to become super powers, may change, yet they always exist, it is ever the same. Why?

I am reluctant to believe the human race is endemically bad.  I chose not to think in terms of black and white, or good and evil. Some take comfort in the belief that this life is only a veil of tears; that all will be redressed in an afterlife of joy. Others conclude that I have already lived the life of a miserable captive slave, beaten, starved and abused… maybe such horrors await me in my next incarnation. Such postulations might serve to alleviate some of my guilt.. But I don’t hold with them. Nor do I have any reason to believe all will be redressed in another life, in another place.

So I am left asking ‘why’? If anyone out there has the answer, please let me know. Meanwhile, I shall continue to do my pathetic little bit to tackle injustice when I meet it, and redress the balance of inequality where I can. The eponymous heroine in Rose’s War, Rose Hubbard, had her own particular way of dealing with such matters, but then she had the courage of her convictions. I could not be that assertively brave.  You, however, will have to read her story before deciding whether you stand with her or not. Don’t worry, It won’t be long. Just ’til Christmas,  in time for all those stocking fillers. Why my book? Well, why not!

ps. This blog may be rather serious, but the book is quite funny…really.