The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (now a hit HULU original series 😜) was first published in 1986. Did Atwood have a time machine? Most likely, considering the fears, injustices, and corruption we’re facing with the Trump administration have some scary similarities to the horrors Offred (our main character) deals with in Gilead. No, I’m not downplaying systematic torture and rape. But, throughout the book, Atwood details how the United States of America became the Republic of Gilead through the slow decline of women’s rights and the first amendment, and the measured power grabs of a small group of people. Sound familiar?
While this 50-year-old dystopian story has thousands of possible take-aways, it spoke to me most about gratitude.
Offred reminisces on “the time before” throughout the whole book. She goes into great detail describing luxuries of freedom like the abundance of towels in hotel rooms, locked doors and hand lotion. She even expresses gratitude for small things in her new life, like the feel of sunshine on her daily walk or the romantic beauty in a weeping willow tree. Even in the face of unbelievable trauma and oppression, she finds strength through tiny moments of grace.
Sure, I have as many stresses and problems as the next girl, but the majority of my life is filled with joy. I have a fabulous family, a boyfriend that loves me, and a job that is a dream come true. I have friends around the world, and a really great glass of chardonnay in my hand.
If Offred and the handmaids can be grateful for a baby born of rape who is promptly taken away from her mother, I should be able to be grateful for a hundred things a day.
Do not read The Handmaid’s Tale if you are looking for a fluffy distraction. DO read The Handmaid’s Tale if you want to be challenged to take stock of your life, our world, and what lies ahead.
Hold onto gratitude because, like the song says, “you don’t know what you got till its gone.”