Monday, 2 March 2020

Disaster, Hope and Heroes - by Marc Z Jeffrey

Will Eisner (pencils) and Lou Fine (inks), uploaded by Roygbiv666 / Public domain
We all want to write words that inspire hope or bring life, but how can we frame our words in light of current events – such as the recent bushfires, floods and now the threat of serious disease – so that they hit home?

Coronavirus, COVID-19 to be precise, is here. And the predictions are scary. The Australian government may implement extreme measures to slow its spread. Businesses are likely to be impacted by disruptions to the supply chain, downturns in demand, or by workforces being compromised by infection or by needing to care for loved ones. So, unless workers can work from home, this could also flow on as severe personal financial hardship, a result multiplied across the land.  Nationally, that could push us toward deep recession. However you look at it, this virus could be disastrous news.

But, of course, we all hope and pray for a quick and effective solution without pain.

Besides the disease itself, the worst may well be the enforced isolation
including the cancellation of community and sporting events to stop the spread. How will that affect us as a community? Canbera 28 Jan, 2020

Community is what makes disasters recoverable. It is also what characterises Australians when there is an emergency. Just think of the role communities played in the recent national bushfire crisis. There was story after story of people backing each other up, pitching in to help with extraordinary offers, often in the face of unfathomable disaster.

But a community isolated from itself. Who survives that? Where do we draw the courage to fight on with true grit?

In the Great Depression and the Second World War, it was creative people that came to the fore with printed comic stories which rapidly gained popularity during the war years. The hallmark of these stories involved ordinary but very brave individuals turning extraordinary and overcoming great difficulties with the acquisition of great powers. The first of this genre featured Superman (in 1938), but other stories followed, including Batman (1939), Captain Marvel (1939), Wonder Woman (1941) and Captain America (1941).

Such a diversion was precisely what the population supporting the allied forces (which included the US and the UK and by extension, Australia) needed during the dark days of the Second World War. As in most wars, travel and freedoms were limited, work was often dangerous and communication heavily censored. Not only did the fictional comic stories provide a diversion from the dark reality of war and the constant threat of death and destruction, but the population could start believing again that the present reality could be overcome and peace could resume. The personas and achievements of these superheroes were, in many ways, a panacea.

This superhero comic book genre came to the fore and enjoyed strong popularity till a few years after the conclusion of World War II, in what became known as the golden age of comics. Some years after that, cinematography revived the waning genre to become the hit it is today.

Australia has not had a nationwide threat like COVID-19 for quite a time. Unlike in the bushfire emergency, we don’t really know where the safer places are – where we flee to when the out-of-control wildfire is approaching. We knew what to do then, but many people lost their homes, businesses and in some cases their lives anyway. This time it’s different. We don’t know well yet where the threat may come from and exactly how we should react when it does. It feels dark.

But do not be discouraged in these times of threat. We can rise above it and be a light, by our writing pointing to the love of our God who knows all things – love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Creative writers again have a part to play doing, in essence, what those 1940s comic writers did. Supported by electronic media we can enthral, encourage and point upward. By creating content that reaches above the threats and hidden dangers, we can be the community that helps our fellow Australians through tough times, by helping them believe.

So, what type of stories bring you hope? What memes inspire you to rise up above fear and the threat of the unknown?

Marc Z Jeffrey works for the Australian public service, but loves to write suspense and thrillers and the occasional whimsical dragon story. He loves editing fiction and can spot an errant apostrophe at a thousand paces.


  1. Thanks Marc. A word in season for sure. :)

  2. Hey Marc, very thought provoking. When I was growing up I loved Star Trek and Star Wars. They inspired me to have hope that good will prevail. Ultimately we know it will.

  3. Hi Marc, I love your reminder about how creative people step up with necessary encouragement in hard times. We can even match their successful attempts with what was happening in history. And as you say, our 21st century technology is such that any of us can have a go. Great thoughts thanks.


  4. But a community isolated from itself. Who survives that? Where do we draw the courage to fight on with true grit?

    I love these words Marc.
    I feel them. I have been seeking, probably in the wrong area,for such a community.

    I feel like a wingless bird eager to fly but can't get lift off.
    Years of trauma have seperated me from my pursuit of writing and illustrating, so my unfinished dreams of fulfilling books I started years ago due to the trauma, have left me with the problem of how age related problems now, of, how do I finish these books? Particularly, in the area of illustrating.
    I would so love a partner or partners to assist me and share in the returns of such, to make the dreams reality again.
    I asked the Lord, and He said, and showed me I need T.E.A.M together we can make it happen.
    He reminded me of Henry Ford, he had a dream but needed others with expertise to realise this dream. He showed me Jesus, He sought out twelve men to bring about that dream. He also showed me a tree with it's roots system supporting the above ground tree.
    I just haven't known where to ask. But since reading this blog. Wondered maybe, if I just put it out there amongst my Christian peers, I might find an answer?

  5. I read recently in a secular publication that most procrastination does not have its roots in laziness, but fear. I'm on a similar journey in that I start but need lots of encouragement -- and sometimes not the gentle kind -- to keep going toward the finish line. On the plus side, I am blessed to have many good people around me, so I pray for you to gain that 'team' as friends that will goad you on!
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Good piece, Marc. I agree that faith based writers can - and do - offer a more hopeful perspective on life in tough times. However, in the current situation of coronavirus I would suggest a more robust attitude is needed. God's people carry THE answer, Jesus Christ: healer, protector, refuge, and antidote to all fear. God forbid we would settle for a few comics to comfort a panicked world.

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