I recently read “Wool,” an enormously successful science-fiction novel by Hugh Howey. I don’t normally read sci-fi, but I’d seen and heard enough rave reviews of the book that I decided to read it for myself.
Why am I discussing a novel, especially a science-fiction novel, on a health blog? Hang with me. I have my reasons.
“Wool” tells the story of a group of people who’ve spent centuries surviving in a huge underground silo drilled deep into the earth – one-hundred and fifty-plus levels, if I remember correctly. Each level has a different function. Some contain gardens, others host shops and restaurants, and others have infirmaries and law enforcement quarters. The residents live near their places of employment. Mines and miners are on the lowest levels. Generators and pumps and the mechanics who keep them in operation exist above them. The supply rooms and staff are even higher. And up it goes to more “important” departments, like IT.
One long, spiral staircase connects all the levels and all the silo people. The only way to see daylight is to tread the winding, metal stairs to the topmost level, which has huge windows that display, via camera lenses, the overcast, windswept, lifeless, toxic landscape outside the silo. Few people make the trip on a regular basis.
Are you feeling claustrophobic yet? I did while reading the book. Mr. Howey is an excellent writer whose story immerses the reader in a world that lacks the sunshine, freedom and beautiful vistas we take for granted. In case you’re wondering why anyone would read such a depressing story, I want you to know that love for friends and family is the driving force behind the plot.
Although “Wool” is a fun read, I was struck by its cultural authenticity and the similarity between the silo society and the real-live, repressive, religious cult that segregates several people I love from the rest of humanity. Here are ten of the many commonalities between the two worlds:
- Fear-based control
- Focus on shame and punishment
- Taboo subjects
- Approved marriages
- Forced birth control
- Limited education
- Limited communication between members
- Limited contact with other groups
- Community “order” structured on and regulated by the leader’s lies
- One person has all the control and enforces with an iron fist
Every aspect of our health is important. Emotional and mental health are just as vital as physical health. Fear and domination take their toll, whether a single person is manipulated and abused by another person or an entire organization or country is under the thumb of an authoritarian and his or her minions. If even one aspect of the above list rings true for you, seek help. Seek freedom.
– Freedom of Mind Resource Center: https://freedomofmind.com
– Freedom of Mind Resource Center phone: 617-396-4638
– National Domestic Violence Hotline Website: http://www.thehotline.org
– National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233
– National Human Trafficking Resource Center: http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org
– National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
– Wellspring Retreat & Resource Center: http://wellspringretreat.org
– Wellspring Retreat & Resource Center phone: 740-589-5600/740-589-5601
I’ll conclude with the heroine’s thoughts near the end of “Wool.” “So much about her previous life made sense. Things that had once seemed twisted now had a sort of pattern, a logic about them…it was all designed. She’d seen hints of this before but never knew why… It turned out that some crooked things looked even worse when straightened. Some tangled knots only made sense once unraveled.”