“That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.” – Margaret Atwood, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that “The Handmaid’s Tale” has been resurrected in the social consciousness, soon after protests and marches have begun in order to keep and save those very rights spoken of in Margaret Atwood’s story.
But if we go back even further, I think we can assume that some of us, at least, saw this coming. Look at what we’ve been watching for the last few years. Nothing happens in a vacuum. We’ve seen evil creeping back in, attempting to snatch power away from the people who would use it for good. Many of us had a bad feeling about this, but there were even more who wouldn’t listen to us, or, regrettably, more who didn’t care. Because they were hoping for power too.
I think the first place I noticed it was in the 2012 Marvel movie “The Avengers”. While at the time I believed it was primarily a reaction against the 9/11 tragedy, I now believe it was also a warning. Read this exchange between Loki of Asgard and a (at least implied) Holocaust survivor:
Loki: “Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”
Old Man: [slowly rises to his feet] “Not to men like you.”
Loki: [smiling] “There are no men like me.”
Old Man: “There are always men like you.”
The Avengers (2012)
Do you see? We’re in danger of allowing history to repeat itself, whether you believe it strictly repeats itself or echoes out like ripples or waves. There will always be those who crave power, who will strip it from those they deem “less than”, those they have been made afraid of by the lies they’ve been told by those who feel superior.
The problem is, we’re afraid of what we don’t understand. Where do we turn for the truth when the news is full of bias and “alternative facts”? Who can we believe? Who can we trust? How do we allow ourselves time to understand when the world seems to be caving in around us?
This is why stories are important. Reading, watching, listening to stories is vital. If you can do nothing else, rebel by reading books like Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, or 1984 by George Orwell, or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Watch things like “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “The Avengers” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Star Wars: Rogue One”. These words were not written by chance:
Krennic: “We were on the verge of greatness. We were this close to providing peace and security for the galaxy.”
Erso: “You’re confusing peace…with terror.”
Krennic: “Well, you have to start somewhere.”
Star Wars: Rogue One (2016)
This isn’t panic. This isn’t hysteria. This is real. This is happening. People around the globe are watching. We are living in a time where evil could repeat itself and murder millions of innocents.
We need to be responsible. Sort out the “alternative facts” from the truth. Be vigilant in protecting ourselves and our neighbors. Stand up for what’s right. Sometimes, all it comes down to is words. Words from stories, words from our own mouths, words used before in history.
“Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.”
This is how it starts, you know. By separating us with words. “Right” and “Left”. “Muslim” and “Christian”. “Gay” and “Straight”. And then it becomes patches we wear to identify those of us being sent away to be dehumanized and turned into numbers. Numbers that later serve to identify us to our loved ones, inscribed on memorials to help those left remember to not let this happen again.
It must not happen again. We cannot allow things to regress to that point. We do not need more hate. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided. We must rise, together, and stand united. We are not alone. We have each other. And we will not be separated by our labels. We are all human. We are all equal. We all deserve to live. But we must band together. Our hope for survival is based on how well we can work together. Dissolving the lines drawn by those who wish to divide and conquer.
Joyce: “This is not yours to fix alone. You act like you’re all alone out there in the world, but you’re not. You’re not alone.”
Stranger Things (2016)
Pay attention to the stories being told right now. They’re warning us about our future.