I thought I would have some fun today and talk about how dystopian 2020 has become. I’ve been thinking about whether we’re careening toward George Orwell’s “Nineteen-Eighty-Four“(1984)” or Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron.” Both stories take place in some dark future, and both are too real right now. However, in Christ, we identify more with the latter. I’ll explain why later.
If you haven’t read these classic stories, you can read their summaries by clicking on the title links above. Harrison Bergeron is probably less known, but it’s very short and can be read in one sitting. You can read the whole thing for free here. (I’ve included a short clip from a movie below.)
Who would’ve thought our country would change so much in just six months. There’s a lot we must ‘unremember’ in an election year!
“The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.” (1984)
Why do I think these dystopian scenarios are playing out in 2020? I’ll start with the following two quotes:
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” (1984)
“Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.” (Harrison Bergeron)
Hmmm….wasn’t the whole nation finally shutdown in April?
Let’s first look at parallels with Orwell’s “1984.” We’ve seen historic statues defaced or destroyed (including the idiocracy of defacing those of abolitionists!), streets are renamed, history rewritten, all in order to promote the ‘Party’ narrative from the ‘Ministry of Truth.’:
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” (1984*)
On a lighter note, The Babylon Bee had a good solution to protecting our statues in this article: “Cities Protecting Statues by Disguising Them As Karl Marx.”
What about changing the meanings of words and terms like “racism” and “white supremacy?” Welcome to the Orwellian world of ‘Doublespeak!’
“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” (1984)
“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.” (1984)
How about the ‘Newspeak’ narrative we constantly hear from the mainstream media?
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.” (1984*)
“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’” (1984*)
We now live in a world where ‘Bellyfeel’ has replaced honestly assessing what is true:
“What you say or do doesn’t matter; only feelings matter. If they could make me stop loving you-that would be the real betrayal.” (1984*)
“Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.” (1984*)
And speaking of emotions, Orwell’s world has its own version of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” with the ‘Two Minutes Hate.’ Shout out his name…Goldstein!!!
1984 has cancel culture, too. You ‘unperson’ anyone who doesn’t go along with the ‘Party’ narrative.
As our protagonist, Winston Smith, found out, you’re only rational if you embrace the relativistic Party narrative. Afterall, 2 + 2 = 4 is only your version of the truth. Winston had to find this out by being mercilessly tortured by the ‘Ministry of Love’:
“You are a slow learner, Winston.”
“How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”
“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.” (1984*)
Now, let’s talk about Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron.” Here’s a summary from Wikipedia:
“In the year 2081, the 211th, 212th, and 213th amendments to the Constitution dictate that all Americans are fully equal and not allowed to be smarter, better-looking, or more physically able than anyone else. The Handicapper General’s agents enforce the equality laws, forcing citizens to wear “handicaps”: masks for those who are too beautiful, loud radios that disrupt thoughts inside the ears of intelligent people, and heavy weights for the strong or athletic.” (Wikipedia)
This sounds like equality of outcome. And face masks were required to make sure everyone equally has no soul.
Our main characters are Harrison and his parents, George and Hazel:
“One April, 14-year-old Harrison Bergeron, an intelligent, athletic, and good-looking teenager, is taken away from his parents, George and Hazel Bergeron, by the government. They are barely aware of the tragedy, as Hazel has “average” intelligence (a euphemism for stupidity), and George has a handicap radio installed by the government to regulate his above-average intelligence.” (Wikipedia)
Watch this brief clip from a 1995 tv adaptation for a good summary explanation:
The story ends like all dystopian stories do…badly. The Handicapper-General shows up and shoots Harrison Bergeron dead. In the book, Hazel witnessed this killing while George was away from the television…
George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him up. And then he sat down again. “You been crying?” he said to Hazel.
“Yup,” she said.
“What about?” he said.
“I forget,” she said. “Something real sad on television.”
“What was it?” he said.
“It’s all kind of mixed up in my mind,” said Hazel.
“Forget sad things,” said George.
“I always do,” said Hazel.
As Adolf Hitler once said, “How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.”
We can see some parallels here with Jesus. You could say He was the first “Harrison Bergeron.” He was larger than life and He came to free us from bondage and show us our full potential. The ‘Party’ killed Him, too. But He didn’t stay dead! He’s alive, and He lives in you and me, and because we’re in Christ, now we are Harrison Bergeron!
Stories like these show why you must burn the books if you want to stop people from being free and thinking for themselves, lest they develop an attention span longer than a tweet. You should burn them all. Especially, the Bible.
Good analysis of these “interesting” times. “1984” has come to mind these last few weeks. Not being familiar with Harrison Bergeron, I appreciate the link to read it.
L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .
Thanks for your comments, Wil. Blessings to you as well.
LOL! What fun, a good dystopian romp through 2020. Thanks for reminding me of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron.” Throw off your chains, indeed. Jesus came to set the captives free! That is a really good analogy.
I’m not sure if things are just extra special surreal where I live or else i just have an eye for the odd, but regardless, I have seen some strange things. Yesterday I walked past a sax player on the street, wearing a mask. I don’t know if he had a hole in it or he was just blowing right through it, but he was playing some good music.
Ha! Picturing a Sax player with a mask pretty much sums up 2020, at least, the music scene! 🙂
I think your neck of the woods is, in some ways, ground-zero for the extra surreal. 🙂 All the anarchist/socialist insanity that’s been going on at campuses in Washington (think Evergreen State) and others, along with Antifa embedding itself in Portland, and many other urban areas, for years now. That was all under the the radar before but has now overflowed into the national scene. But there is a good side to this. It’s been exposed and people are not accepting it. I believe God will turn was was meant for evil and destruction for our good!
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Thanks for your pithy comments, Anonymous.