Writer Research on Suffering
by Bruce L. Cook
Next time you are writing about manís inhumanity to man (or women), do some research to discover how oppressed people feel about their sorry lot. If you have no similar experience (and if you are American), try primary source evidence of the greatest US shame - slavery.
To recognize the truth of human depravity, writers can read historical accounts of the Crusades, the Holocaust, and recent grotesque events in Ukraine, North Korea, and other areas. But, as participants in Western culture, there is so much to learn from the ghastly truth of slavery.
In the late 1930s, serious attention was given to slavery as part of the US effort to recover after the great depression. At that time the United States WPA (Works Projects Administration) compiled reports from 17 states in which as many as 2,300 elderly slaves who were still living gave an account of their experiences while suffering as slaves. In research, you can read transcriptions of their testimony. See...
Slave Culture: A Documentary Collection of the Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project [3 Volumes]: A Documentary Collection of the Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project. (2014). United States: ABC-CLIO.
While this history cannot represent the entire truth about such tragedies, any writer can learn about depravity in human behavior by listening to these former slaves.
Here anyone can witness first-hand accounts of brutal repression. This research informs writers so they can more accurately portray the worst dimensions of human depravity. As a message going forward, let's hope writers can warn future readers to strongly oppose today's horrors of war and oppression.
Surprisingly, one sees a recurrent theme in the stories - hope. I learned thus when helping a Refugee from DR Congo publish a book of poetry. I expected bitterness and despair. Instead, in the book Nomad by Rais Boneza (now available through Amazon .com - https://a.co/d/fAevq1a), I was surprised to see hope. Thatís the take-away. Hope is what keeps a suffering victim going from day to day.
--Bruce Cook, Publisher
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Publishing New Writers,
December, 2022 (vol. 23, no.12)
Dr. Bruce L. Cook
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Elgin, IL 60123
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