You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'freedom'.
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 entries.

A Divergent Review

  • Posted on August 18, 2014 at 10:00 AM

I can’t remember for sure, but I think my initial reaction to the buzz about Veronica Roth’s Divergent was, “Not another dystopian novel!” I didn’t pay much attention to the hype; then again, I rarely ever do. Besides, I rarely have the time to devote to leisure reading, so I tend to stick to books that I know I’ll like—it’s not like there aren’t enough of those to keep me entertained for the next few decades.

At some point, I caught on to the premise of the story. Tris, the main character, is different in a world (or what’s left of it) that considers difference a bad thing. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Except, this story is set in the remnants of Chicago after a cataclysmic war. If you know anything about contemporary Chicago, then you know its population is full of diversity and probably couldn’t get over being different in any foreseeable future, no matter how devastated that future might be. If the movie is any indication, then this attribute of Chicago is at least partially recognized in Roth’s vision because the movie shows at least some of the racial differences that can be seen in contemporary Chicago. The cultural differences, however, have been sacrificed for the sake of survival. In their place, new differences have emerged, dependent solely on the dominant nature of the individuals: intellectuals, self-sacrificing servants, compassionate agriculturalists, honest judges, and courageous warriors.

Based on the movie (I still haven’t gotten a chance to read the book), I’d have to say that I fit most closely with the Erudite or intellectuals. It’s not because I’m power-hungry, as they prove to be in the movies, but because, especially through my young adulthood, I have usually valued my intellect the most. I can be selfless, I can be brave, I can be kind, and I can be honest. In fact, I try to be all of those things most of the time. But if I had to choose just one, then I would go with intelligence, because I like to solve problems by thinking them through.

Based on the issue of conformity, rather my lack thereof, I would be divergent as it’s described in the movie. Then again, so would most of the people I know. Whether that’s a reflection of the people I know or whether it’s a reflection of the impracticality of the faction ideal, I don’t know. Still, the idea that nonconformists are perceived by those that hold down the status quo is very familiar.

The world is full of people in the here and now that view difference, divergence, and non-conformity as threats to their way of life, even when the people who are different, divergent, and non-conforming don’t actually have anything to do with their life. That is very true to human nature and that fear is the source of the most violent, dangerous aspects of human nature. Ironically, it’s also those parts of human nature that Erudite Jeanine embraced—that and the desire for power.

Giving the selfless the responsibility to govern and administer was a wise allocation of human resources, if a rather futile one. The people who want power the least are those who are going to treat it most responsibly, but they are also the least likely to hold onto it. This is why, despite our best efforts and our best claims about public service, we haven’t been able to create a government or nonprofit sector that consistently serves and protects the interests of all of the people. Unfortunately, these sectors tend to fail the people who are in the most danger the most frequently, because they are inevitably those with the least power.

In the movie, the solution is for a few brave souls to stand up, challenge the power-hungry destroyers, and save the day. In reality, it’s rarely so simple. Government bends in the face of power, especially the power of the most powerful of its own people. The least powerful are in the most danger, precisely because they lack the power to make the government bend towards them. In a democratic state, the only defense we have is to stand together; weaving what power we have into a stronger tapestry than any of us can make for ourselves. By working together and fighting for and with each other, we show those in power that we have enough power that we’re worth bending towards. This isn’t accomplished by separating into factions, but by uniting under a banner of freedom and equality, regardless of the differences that make us “divergent.” Therein lies our power.

The Last Week of Freedom

  • Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:00 AM

School moves into full swing next Wednesday. It starts a day early for Willy, to give the 9th graders a chance to have the high school all to themselves for that one anxious day. Over time, the boys will find themselves shifting into a new kind of normal. For now, it’s the end of the normal we have.

I start school next week, too. The official first day is next Tuesday, just like Willy. I’ll learn more about what’s expected of me during the online orientation today. My biggest concern is whether my textbooks will arrive in time for me to complete my first assignments. From what I understand, the books won’t even be shipped until after classes start—coinciding with when financial aid is dispersed, not with when students need them. Then again, I’ve received different answers from different sources. Right now I’m going to trust the bookstore personnel and anticipate a dire need for playing catch up later on in the week, once my textbooks arrive.

Either way this is our last week of freedom. Summer is ending. School is starting. Willy seems to be the one who most worried. And who could blame him? High school! Willy is starting high school!

And he’s going to be great!

Meanwhile, I have to get as much freelancing in as I can before school starts…so, back to work I go!

True Dawn

  • Posted on May 30, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. It’s a time to look back, and remember those who have sacrificed to make this country a place to be free. Instead, I look ahead and ask myself if it is freedom that I see.

There’s something on the edge of thought—a feeling to be written of that isn’t quite ready to come out, not quite ready to be exposed. Frustration is there, and so is disappointment. All swirled together with a steady, flat kind of hope.

The future. Was does it hold for my children?

I stare ahead, and it stares back at me, with its blurry lines and undefined shape. I don’t know what it is I see. I have hope that it will be good, but it’s more of a “good enough” than a “what my children deserve.” I look ahead, and I see frustrations and disappointments, like obstacles and obstructions, obscuring my view. The hope weaves through them, or around them, or over them. But they’re there.

I have hope that I can make a good life for my children, and I have hope that they will, in time, be able to make a good life for themselves. I know they will face frustrations and disappointments. I can accept both the hope and the obstacles.

Yet, there’s still something unsettling about that which I almost see. It’s like the gray cast of a false dawn, spread across the sky to the horizon. I don’t know what it is I see. I look, I try, but still… It leaves me unsettled. Not because of the ignorance. We never really know what the future holds. No, the dissonance is something else. It’s the false dawn, the grayness and the smears of washed-out colors.

The world is not ready to allow us our freedom. That is what I see. Despite all those who have sacrificed to leave freedom for their descendants to inherit, the world is not ready for us to have it. But we will not wait.

We are stepping into the future one day at a time. And there will be a place for my children. A good place, though only “good enough.” There will be places for others like my children, both children and adults. Many, including myself, are working hard for those places. But that gray sky, those smeared colors…all our work is not going to be enough. When those of us who are raising children now have adult children, in the stead of our little ones, there will still be work to do, for us and for them. Because the world isn’t ready for us. Even if their places are “good enough,” they will not be “what our children deserve,” and there will always be others whose places are not even “good enough.”

Perhaps that is the way it will always be—that false dawn, the constant demand for improvement and progress, not just in technology, but in how human we regard each other and what that means to us. But, then I think, the dawn—the true dawn—must come. It always does.