Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: dystopian

Tyranny of the Majority or “We Vote Against You”

Tyranny of the majority, otherwise known as “mob rule,” is no way to build a nation. A straight democracy, one without limits to its power, is a tyranny as much as any dictator or king.

Where do I even start with this one? It’s like the author could see me struggling from 80 years away.

The words are hard to gather. Once again, I’m sitting here wishing you were here. When we speak face to face, your reactions to my words help my limping ideas along. Your questions and insights, even when contradicting mine, give my mind the steam to organize and move forward at a faster rate. Is it the same for you? I feel that it is.

Reading that line from the book, I’m reminded of that cliché everyone’s mom is reported to say, “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you?”

I hope not. But then, if everyone found a great new way to communicate, I’d be happy to join the majority and thrive along with them. No one wants to be left out, or left behind, but sometimes we do need to swim against the tide and strike out on our own to find what is true. So how do we know when to stay with the crowd and when to forget our own path alone?

I believe it’s only by conversation, in person, through books and articles, and even through comments online, if we could learn to better listen. But lately, (and by lately, I mean the past five or six years) online in the past, and now more and more often in person, I get the feeling that no one wants to hear the question “Why?”

When the dreaded question is asked, I recoil at the verbal and written violence thrown at them from every side. It’s as if the very idea of questioning anything any “authority” says is an attack on that authority and must be defended at all costs.

How have we come to this point? And please don’t just yell back, “Social media is doing it to us!” It’s too easy an answer. Besides, who is behind the social media? Us. We are the ones reacting in terrible ways to posts. We are the ones throwing the word grenades into the fray. And we are the ones packing our comments with shrapnel in hopes of causing the most damage to our perceived enemies.

We’ve all fragmented into tiny tribes of identity attempting to vote any opposing group or another out of existence.

Personally, I have hope that things will get better again. The world may not be ending, only changing…again. Reading Ray Bradbury’s words reminds me that polarizing arguments like ours have been had before and we came through. The world did not end in a nuclear holocaust, and we didn’t run out of food.

There are loads of statistics and trends out there that point to things getting better, not worse. Authors like Matt Ridley in The Rational Optimist helped me see that. His blog is a wonderful read as well.

The tyranny of the majority has always been a problem for humans. Mobs suck in almost every way. Humans are complex creatures. We crave to be part of a community for our mental health. There is safety in numbers and “many hands make light work” is a truism. But we also need to be true to ourselves, and each of us is different.

When we lived in small communities of distant relatives, it was easier. We generally only fought to the death with those outside our land. Things are different now. Technology has made our world feel so much smaller. So many people, backgrounds, religions, cultures, languages, etc., all thrown into the pot together. There are bound to be serious miscommunications.

Is patience all we need? A little more listening. Maybe.

It reminds me of Star Trek’s “universal translator.” It must have taken decades to develop that and work out all the bugs. If you’ve watched “Enterprise” and “Original Series” you’ll remember some epic mess-ups with it.

Technology is bringing this world is moving forward into unknown territory very quickly. Can we keep the peace long enough to begin to understand each other better? Or will we tear each other apart in fear first?

Go back to my first post “Fahrenheit 451: New Read” to read more.

H.G. Wells, You Old So-And-So!

H.G. Wells drawing
Inside Cover of my Ace Edition

I’m not sure why this drawing is printed on the inside cover of my H.G. Wells book. It looks like strange tank my sons would have drawn when they were kids. The weapons vehicle that he described most in this book was a helicopter like thing.

In the immortal words of “Men on Books,” hated it!

“Hated it” is too much, really. I just never got into it. I’m not a big fan of H.G. Wells at all. His books are filled with descriptions that never capture my imagination. His narrative follows the action and scene more than the feelings and motives of the character. I’m not saying they’re bad books. My boys and my husband love them. They just aren’t my cup of tea, I guess.

The part I found so strange was that Graham never seemed to understand that he was being used by both sides. He had slept for two-hundred years and by some strange sequence of events he actually hadn’t set in motion, he awoke to be the “owner” of more than half the world. Money had been invested in his name while he slept and had multiplied. Since he never died, only slept, when he awoke all that money went to him.

But how would anyone expect him to manage things after being out of the loop that long. He didn’t know anything. So much had changed. You could say that human nature hadn’t changed in that amount of time. He could have used his knowledge of humanity to get up to speed and manage well, but he didn’t have much when he went to sleep. He was just your average Joe, not a leader of men. I just didn’t get it.

Maybe I’m missing something. This is one of those times that I’d love to hear other people’s take on this book. I did a quick search for commentary but didn’t find much.

There were things I did enjoy in the book, though.

He described television, in 1899. “It was exactly like the reality viewed through an inverted opera glass and heard through a long tube.”

And “He clung to his anger – because he was afraid of Fear.”

Ah, yes, I know the feeling and I’m sure it’s what drives many people throughout the ages. It’s also something others use to gather crowds of followers and start wars. Charismatic leaders use people’s fear and say things like, “Those are the people that are ruining things! We must destroy them!” I used to think that didn’t happen often but I’m starting to see I was very wrong. It’s happening again, right now.

“You will be expected to say something,” said Ostrog. “Not what you used to call a Speech, but what our people call a Word – just one sentence, six or seven words. Something formal. If I might suggest – ‘I have awakened and my heart is with you.’ That is the sort of thing they want.”

You mean a Tweet? That seems to be all anyone wants to hear from our leaders these days. Don’t give me whole ideas and thoughts. A simple one liner that I can interpret to mean whatever I want and can easily re-tweet or share.

“Thence, too, flashed the world-wide messages, the falsehoods of the news-tellers, the chargers of the telephonic machines that had replaced the newspapers of the past.”

He called them “babble machines.” We call it tv news and social media.

“I want reality not realism.”

Reality: The quality or state of being actual or true.

And

Realism: An inclination toward literal truth and pragmatism.

Reality is the physical world you live in. Realism is the book or movie about it. I agree with Graham. I’d like more reality and less realism. I’d like to live and breathe in the actual world, not see it on tv or read about in in books. Sometimes, that is. If I could see reality through my screen or in print, instead of someone else’s interpretation of reality, that would be nice.

By the way, I love this old, mass-produced book by Ace Books, probably published in the early 70’s. It has an ad for cigarettes in the middle, and originally sold for 75 cents.

When was the last time you saw an ad for cigarettes in your book?

Yes, there were some archaic and racist ways of thinking in this book. There were references to the “yellow peril” and “negros.” Socialism was a main theme, or really the lack of socialism. Graham had hopes for bright Socialist future, one that Marx promised moving through Capitalism would bring, but he found something very different. I’m sure someone out there has written much about that.

Old sci-fi and dystopian fiction is interesting because it sheds light on where creative people believed the world was headed. Sometimes they get so close and then so far away from where history takes us. This one wasn’t one of my favorites, but it wasn’t a waste of time. If I had infinite time, I’d go back and read it again after I read a few other books. A better grasp on H.G. Well’s politics would be helpful.

Go back to my first post about this book, “When the Sleeper Wakes: New Read” You’ll find links to my other posts there as well.

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