It has often puzzled me that people have often tended to look down on escapist forms of literature and entertainment. Considering that so many people live in various types of prisons, it makes perfect sense why they would want to escape. If you live in a literal prison, you want an escape. If you live in a prison of loneliness, of a lack of respect, of crushing debt, or things like that, you want an escape. If you live in a state like Oregon or Michigan or most of the countries of the world who are misgoverned by incompetent and corrupt rulers and authorities, you definitely want an escape from what is offered there. Sometimes you may find that escape in moving away from an unpleasant situation, and sometimes you may not be able to get away physically but may choose to escape in some other fashion. I will offer no criticism of that here or anywhere else.
What I do offer is a bit of insight into the phenomenon of escaping. We need to be very careful to understand what we are escaping from. To the extent that our trouble is driven by external problems, escape is the most obvious and most reasonable course of action when it comes to getting away from an intolerable reality that has been forced on us that we cannot change. If it can be hard finding safe places, it is far easier to attempt that sort of solution than to deal with the question of how such unpleasant situations are to be overturned by some sort of force, where the use of force may make our lives more complicated and put us and loved ones in even more danger. But the adoption of escape as our strategy depends on our trouble being the result of external problems.
To the extent that the trouble we face is not due to something outside of us but rather something inside of us, then escape does not offer us the opportunities that we might think. If we are bringing trouble on ourselves because of something in our character, or in our approach to dealing with people, such a thing will happen wherever we happen to go. The same situations will lead us into the same trouble, and going to a new place will simply cause the existing reality to occur over and over again, because the script is written within us about how things will go, rather than being imposed from the outside.
It can be an immensely difficult thing to understand from whence our troubles come. Troubles may seem to come from outside because they happen with other people–police officers, neighbors, romantic partners, and so on. It is easy for us to think that the problem lies in the people that we deal with and that a different change of scenery will do us good. And sometimes it does, if we have been influenced by others or pushed by others into trouble. But if the trouble is our own longings and our own behavior and our own thinking and feeling, and if the negative consequences are (as they often are) lamentable but predictable nonetheless, then those troubles will follow us no matter where we go. We would even be unhappy alone on a desert island to the extent that we bring our troubled heart and mind and spirit with us wherever we go.
There are, after all, two things that we cannot escape, no matter where we travel. We cannot escape either God or ourselves. If our problems lie in that area, there is no help for us apart from to deal with that problem and to overcome it. We cannot run away from it, no matter where we go. It is only if our problems are external that we can find some sort of escape from them. It can be hard to know the extent to which our problems are things that the world pushes on us or are problems that we bring to the world, but knowing accurately can help us to determine how fervently we should be looking for an escape from our problems or resolute in staying and fighting it out. There is a time for escape and a time to remain, and knowing what times we are in makes all the difference.