This fall, catholic school students have been challenged to answer the ever so present question: "What is the perfect society?" From living in a society that was shut down and then transferred completely virtual, I can say our society is far from perfect, but why?
The questioning of why we are not in a perfect society or even what makes a perfect society is the first step into a philosophy that focuses on what is called a utopian society. Back in 6th grade, my class was reading some book, let it be The Giver or Gathering Blue, or maybe even The Hunger Games; the title of the book was superfluous. What was important was the message inside of the book, that every single society that had tried their best to set up a utopia had failed miserably. Looking at our current situation, I'm sure many people would compare us to those societies, and with such a pessimistic view of a perfect society, how will we ever achieve it. To get into the mood of what creates a utopian society, I will begin with three of the worst dystopias to exist, EVER.-periodt
Where does one start with the mess that is Rajneeshpuram? Wow. If you have yet to hear about the infestation of Wasco County, Oregon that was Rajneeshpuram because you do not spend every Sunday morning binge-listening to Parcast Cults on Spotify or you live under a rock and have yet to see the masterpiece that is called Wild Wild Country on Netflix, then you are in for quite the treat. Rajneeshpuram was a cult lead by a leader named Rajneesh(I know the creative name, right), but Rajneesh preferred to be called the Bhagwan and more specifically Osho to those who were closer to him. Ignoring the sex scandals, drug abuse, public indecency, and fraud, Rajneeshpuram was the perfect place for any land-loving free spirit. The only true rule there was that you should work off your stay and most people were honored to do so. Also, since the community as a whole was so hardworking, there was hardly ever any work to do. People would beg for work- let that sink in. Can you imagine to beg to do chores at your house? Totally bugging, as if. Chile anyways- The main reason this place is #1 on my list is that although it was "run" by a sociopathic horror, the true leader was one bad*ss woman named Ma Anand Sheela(also known as Sheela). Sheela was the brains behind this whole operation. TALK ABOUT EMPOWERING. She ran the whole circus and still had time to look flawless doing it. She would have gotten away with it too; it was just a circumstance of the wrong place at the wrong time. While I obviously do not condone criminal activities- gov official watching me write this- this woman SERVEDDD and left not a crumb in sight. I think I will do a post on her solely because nothing I can put here will do her the slightest bit of justice. Love you, Sheela :)
1. Gathering Blue Village
Louis Lowery does not actually specify where the Council of Edifice, Kira and her friends, or the "Feild of Leaving" lies, but I think that adds to the richness of the book. While the young-adult novel starts off on a pretty melancholy note, I think that its story is an inspirational and motivating tale of perseverance and character. Kira has been handed the worst possible deck of cards between her parents, disability, and lack of a place to call home, but she manages, with the help of her friends, to overcome it and live a beautiful life. Kira has been deemed an outcast from birth and is only kept alive due to her talents, and once her talents are no longer of use to the Council of Edifice she will be killed. This does not stop Kira from her emotional and social rise to beauty. To relate back to the dystopia, I enjoy their customs such as the robe and the Gathering, but that is pretty much where the support ends. But, this dystopia sits directly in the middle of my list for a much less obvious reason. Gathering Blue has an uncomfortable amount of similarities to our society today, which I think Louis Lowery illustrated masterfully in her portrayal of Kira's community. To begin with the elephant in the room, why is Vandra an actual Karen? I just don't understand. The way Vandra lives in my mind in heart rent-free and the flicker of a memory I get of her every time I see a Karen in public is one of the most irritating feelings I have ever experienced. But a more serious topic is the village's compliance with death, the downfall of others, and poverty. While I do not claim to know Louis Lowery's political agenda,I believe this book was a cry to socialism. The Council of Edifice has convinced it's people that their gain is the villages gain, so villagers only seem to care about their own gain and success, which produces this hedonistic society. This reminds me of a capitalistic society, our society to be specific. I do not seem to be the only one who noticed this is Lowery's writing. When searching to see political agenda's in Lowery's writing, I stumbled across a CNN article, but not about Gathering Blue; it was about her more famous work, The Giver. I will leave it here for anyone interested: https://www.cnn.com/2014/08/18/politics/hollywood-liberal-conservative-the-giver/index.html.
1. The Coral Island
Consider yourself lucky if you have not experienced the agony of reading the universally detested, highschool literature staple Lord of the Flies. Coral Island, the island the young boys were stranded on, reaches the top rank of the worst dystopia because it was created by selfish and ignorant young boys. While there are some character highlights such as Ralph and Piggy, the rest of the boys disgust me and make me wish for a cyst-maleless world. To look past their unhygienic habits, voluntary ignorance of the situation, and hedonistic attitudes, there is a disgusting division among the boys. While the older boys are the ones setting a horrible example and putting all of the children in danger, the younger boys are left to fend for themselves and try to keep the peace long enough for everyone on the island to survive. Sadly, I cannot remember a single moment of that book that I actually enjoyed and when I think back to the horror of that story all I can do is cringe and thank God that I will never have to pick up that book again. The final straw for me was Jack watching Piggy, his peer, die and continue to try and hunt Ralph. It is really the only moment strong enough to express my hatred for this barbaric dystopia. The idea of such young boys being subjected to such retched behavior makes me sick, and the reality of their innocence being destroyed is obvious the moment their saving grace arrives and they bust into tears. I would definitely say Coral Island is the worst dystopia I have ever come across and probably will ever encounter.