I got into a heated argument today with my brother over lunch about his envisioned ‘ideal society’. It stemmed from a discussion about over population and the flaws in our society. He believed that today’s society is significantly more flawed than any other. My counter argument was that every society, form of government or economic structure has been flawed all throughout history. Revolutions don’t occur people because are satisfied. However, he believed that there was a simple answer to all our problems.
So my brother presented this plan about how he would rebuild and run his society after, let’s say, an apocalypse. He would start off with the basics; prioritizing education. Everyone needed equal opportunity and equal choice, they could either choose to join the military or choose to do a service role to help maintain a functioning society, be that farming, construction, government etc. Everyone would work together for a greater cause: the continuation of a working system. It was a vague discussion, because it was very theoretical, but obviously I just had to give counter arguments.
I asked him what would happen to those who simply didn’t like the choices they were given, those who were born leaders and wanted to be greater. My brother said they would simply have to leave to find or build their own society.
“And what about the next Leonardo who’s too smart for the education system but too free-spirited to work towards your goals. Or what about the person being ridiculed for their unimportant job or physical appearance (Well, it happens.)”
“Look, you’re talking about a minority. The fact is that the majority of the population will understand and strive towards the greater good.” He was right. There will always be sheep. But the fact is sheep are also so easily influenced by a ‘better’ ideal.
“What about someone who simply opposes everything you believe in. Someone who, for whatever reason, doesn’t feel that they have enough freedom of speech or choice in life. Someone who wants to start a revolution against you simply because they disagree.”
“Then I’d kill them.”
“And the people who don’t benefit your ideal society?”
“I’ll kill them too.”
“Death doesn’t solve anything. It only affects everyone else who is alive. The guillotine didn’t fix a society that was falling apart, it only sparked social unrest.”
“But sometimes it’s just necessary.”
“You’ve just become the next Hitler.”
“Not really because I won’t employ mass genocide.” That was his assurance to me. I followed this by talking about the hunger games, about people, having witnessed the deaths, having been through the apocalypse, the hurt and the fear, slowly becoming defiant and angry. I asked him what would happen if riots occurred and a full blown attack on the government were to happen, to which he responded (jokingly of course).
“Id kill them all.”
“I thought you said you wouldn’t employ mass genocide?”
“Well, I will if I need to.” And there you have it. People are dying. Human rights are thrown out the window and sooner or later someone loved, respected or idolized will be wrongly prosecuted, people will begin to silently rebel.
Insert someone born into an unbalanced, unsettled society built around death and control. Someone who places high value on human life, be it for spiritual reasons or simply to save a people from mental and physical suffering.
Insert the new Jesus.
“And what if the next Jesus comes along?”
“Then ill crucify him.” (Hysterical laughter)
Excellent. Now you’ve made a martyr for people to rally behind. More problems. Society will ‘right’ itself. A new leader will rise to power and enforce their idea of a perfect, functioning, fair society. At first everything will be fine, but sooner or late someone will lose a loved one to disease, despair will lead to anger, and anger will turn to hatred, hatred to blame. Someone will desire philosophical knowledge and reasoning and strive towards understanding, eventually finding the flaws in their own society. Someone else will strike out at oppression, bullying or ridicule, causing and uproar. Those who oppose will be exiled. When too many oppose, they will be killed. Little value will be placed on human life, it’s all for ‘the greater good’. Someone will rise with new, humanitarianism ideas. And history will repeat itself, again, and again.
We discussed religion, knowledge, books. He’d erase it. Burn the bibles. Repeat the events of ‘Fahrenheit 451’. What had started out as a desire for a perfect, fair society became a ruthless totalitarianism ideal.
Everything all came to me at that point, and it all made sense. I recalled a quote from one of my favourite movies, “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” It made me realize that life, being human, being part of a community, a generation, a society, it isn’t about static beliefs and enforcing a single ideal. It’s about change, and ensuring that change by any means necessary so that everyone, not just yourself but everyone can receive fair judgement and equal opportunity.
Cloud Atlas: the underrated film that showed me that life isn’t about creating a legacy, or continuing a certain, accepted belief or structure, but to constantly fight for change, “There is a natural order to this world, and those who try to upend it do not fare well.” That may be the case, but even if only one other person sees the fight, then perhaps my fight has inspired them, and they will fight, and maybe their brother will fight, and maybe his neighbour will join them too. Cloud Atlas was an extraordinary film. For me, it sparked the idea that we, as individuals, shouldn’t live with the belief that we are the sole saviour of the human race, but should instead work together towards something greater, “What is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” and “Our lives are not our own, we are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” With a desire for change everything else is a given; uprising’s, revolutions, wars. Evolution, constant evolution is the single most prominent, essential, natural thing in all of existence. Something that could be made better, is. We adapt to an ever changing environment but we don’t pass on knowledge, we simply pass on the blueprints for life, so that experiences and memories can shape us. So why shouldn’t we employ that on a social, political level.
I have no idea how to end this because this is honestly where I’m at right now. My mind completely frazzled and my eyes wide with confident uncertainty. So I guess… moral of the story… don’t eat Thai food with my brother.