Fascinated with Dystopias

I’ve been re-watching Babylon 5 recently, and I’m almost at the end of Season 3, when things really get ugly. I was thinking about the characters, and how difficult it was for them to take a stand against the destructive forces in their universe.

speak out against injusticeAnd then I started thinking about other films in modern pop culture, and how there really seems to be a focus on the dystopias – societies that are harmful to the large majority of the people, or that utilize fear and ignorance to gain power over the masses. Books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner are all being turned into popular films.

The concept isn’t new. Classics like Nineteen Eighty Four and Animal Farm by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and many others have warned of horrible futures for many, many years. Recent years have seen many more stories of dystopias, though.

What’s the appeal?

I think it is because we are living in more of a dystopia than we would like to believe. The uncomfortable conditions that so many people live in, the fear of speaking out against those in power, hits awfully close to home.

We like to see the heroes and heroines win. If the more or less ordinary individuals in the books and film can overcome the nearly impossible odds, perhaps there is still hope for us. Perhaps one day we, too, will see an end to the oppression, to the power struggles, the racism, sexism, classism and all the other -isms that separate us, that use our differences to engender hatred instead of celebration.

Perhaps. But it won’t happen if there aren’t those courageous enough to stand up, to speak up, even under threat of violence. Those in power play the fear game well. Big Brother is watching you.

And I admit, I have observed in silence. I have been afraid to speak my truth when I have seen abuse of power or privilege, or even instances of ignorance or hatred. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I recently unfollowed a friend on Facebook who was posting items of intolerance rather than calling that person out.

I am constantly in awe of my friends who speak out regularly, on a daily or hourly basis. You constantly educate me about my ignorance and privilege, and I am honestly grateful. I appreciate the opportunity to be more sensitive to the experiences of others.

I am working on speaking my truth more frequently. I’m a peacekeeper by nature – I don’t like conflict. So this is very challenging for me. I look to my warrior friends, and I hope one  day to have as much courage and understanding as you do. Thank you for the work that you do. You are my heroes and heroines – my Katniss Everdeens, my Beatrice Priors, my Thomas’s. Please keep it up, because you give me courage.

Do you find it easy or difficult to speak your truth?




Who Will Be Our Mockingjay?

Last week I took my children to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. We’ve read the books, and listened to the audiobooks, and seen all of the films as they have come out.

Mockingjay on fireFrom the first time I read The Hunger Games, I was hooked. I even wrote a post about the similarities between Katniss and Artemis a couple of years ago. There’s something about the dystopian society, and the underdog helping to topple a corrupt society that is extremely engaging. We want to believe that we would not treat our children and citizens so harshly.

A quick glance at the news (and I refuse to actually watch the news, and I still can’t avoid it) reveals the truth – we are being fed on fear and told we need stricter laws to protect us (restricting our rights and freedoms). Meanwhile, police violence is on the rise (there are any number of videos out there showing police using excessive force). Our economic system is based on imaginary money, and is likely heading for collapse, despite government efforts to keep it propped up.

As I was watching the film, I found myself wondering, “who will be our Mockingjay?” What will be the tipping point event that catalyses enough people to say NO MORE?

I’m not a proponent of violence. I am not looking for or forward to a bloody revolution. I’m also not likely to step out and be a leader for the kind of change that is necessary. There are alternatives to violence – look at Iceland and what the Occupy Movement was working toward. “We are the 99%” had many of us energized for a while, but I sense that energy has fizzled.

Any movement for change needs a leader – someone, or several someones, to champion the cause and keep the rest of us focused until the change becomes reality. It takes a lot of courage to stand up and be a leader like that because it also makes you a target. Historically, the most outspoken leaders for major change have not had long life expectancies (Martin Luther King Jr, Abraham Lincoln, Malcolm X, John Lennon…), or lived a life under threat and persecution (Ghandi, Edward Snowden, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth…).

I don’t have any answers. I wonder how long we will bow down and accept the increasingly restrictive conditions and limitations to our freedoms being imposed on us. I wonder who the champion for change in our generation, who our Mockingjay will be?

In the meantime, I will continue to visualize the world the way I want to see it, and work on standing up to injustice in my own small way where I experience or witness it.



PS. Do you identify with Katniss and Artemis? Claim your spiritual power with A Walk With Artemis. The world needs you.