I am presenting a challenge to anyone reading this blog. Actually, it probably breaks down into several challenges, but let’s start with this.
I would like everyone to go out and read George Orwell’s 1984. I want you to read it even if you’ve read it before. I want you to read it even if your high school literature teacher forced you to read it and you hated every moment of it because, well, high school. I want you to read it even though it’s considered an important piece of literature and you never met an important piece of literature you could stand to be in the same room with. Just read it. It’s short. On the surface, it’s easy to read. But, I won’t kid you, it’s a think piece. You’ll come away questioning things. You’ll look at world, both the one in which Orwell lived, and, more importantly, our own, in a different way. It’s not necessarily, in the end, a pleasant experience.
Read it anyway. Then have someone you like to talk to read it. Then discuss it. That part is important. You should absolutely discuss it. Hell, discuss it here. Just do it.
A Challenge Part Two
While you’re reading I want you to really pay attention to, and learn the meaning of, doublespeak and doublethink. Consider the roles played by Winston Smith, Julia and O’Brian. Look carefully at the people who are not part of the Party. Ask yourself this one question, over and over, “Why?”.
Why should I do what you say? Who are you, Big Brother?
Nope. Not even close, but you’d know that, maybe, if you read the book. Actually, maybe you wouldn’t. Just read it and see. Basically, I’m a preschool teacher who writes a blog. Specifically, I’m a preschool teacher who writes, reads and thinks. And, then, I worry. I worry a lot. I didn’t used to. Well, I worried, sure, but not on a global scale. I’m not a conspiracy buff, although I’ve never actually met a conspiracy buff who thought they were one, so who knows. I’m the kind of person that believe most of humanity wants what’s good for most of humanity and that they do their best to act that way. Even when I totally hate the way they’re acting.
This year has shaken me to the core and I’m no longer sure I can trust in that basic good. Things have changed.
Okay, I have to admit some things haven’t changed so much as now they are so in front of my white, privileged face that I can’t ignore them, but I suppose that in its self is a change. There is a giant divide between where we should be as humans and where we are. Huge segments of our society, our supposedly free, democratic society, are denied basic rights because of things that make us unique but in no way less human one from another. Marginalized peoples, people who have literally been pushed to the side for centuries in this country, are fighting back and making sure that their voices are heard, that their grievances are aired, and that people, all the people, see what is happening right in front of them.
This is a very, very good thing.
But if you are part of the group of people that have been in charge all these years, it’s also very, very scary.
So what do you if you are one of the leaders of that group. Obviously, you find a way to hold on tight to that power you’ve come to really need, love, worship.
The problem is, some of your group is siding with those upstarts over there and as that group grows they’re getting harder and harder to control. Old scare and conquer tactics aren’t working like they used to. Overt moves to punish and intimidate are back lashing. Laws that forced people into silent hiding are being repealed. Hell, somewhere along the line they even made it unacceptable to take away a person’s dignity with a called name or joke. So, what do you do to keep the power?
Well, here’s the thing. I’m not going to tell you. Read the book.
Then when you are done reading 1984, please read a book, any book, on the rise of Nazism in Germany. Don’t start with the war. Don’t start with the annexation of Austria. Go back farther. Go back to the 1920s and read forward from there.
Here’s why you should read the book. It’s very simple really and it was an immigrant from Spain who first told us why. George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Orwell took his past and projected it into the future and created a world that looks frighteningly familiar. His past included the rise of Nazism and Stalinism. He tells us in this book to look at the past and then look at our now. Then, as scary as it is, look into the crystal ball and imagine a future on a timeline that doesn’t turn away. He shows us what could happen, how it could be prevented or even stopped once in action, and then shows us what has become my greatest fear.
Neither change, nor the results of change, is our enemy, I think. Complacency in the face of change is what allows true evil to survive.
Read the books. Learn the lessons. Fight back.