Earlier today I talked to Debbie about George Orwell’s 1984. Our fellow writers bullied her into reading it despite her apparent dislike of dystopic novels.
19 84 was such a depressing read. From the very first sentence to the very last words, it will take you into a journey. But one with a dark cloud hovering over your head. If you think you will be able to reach the end with at least a glimpse of hope, then you’re in for a heartbreak.
“It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
And so Orwell started to let us see a world he had vividly woven through words. It was a sad, bleak world. A world no one will ever want to see, much less live in.
He introduced us to Winston, a man in his late thirties with varicose ulcer and too many thoughts in his head. Although I find him flat and bland, I agree with the way he thinks. He was probably the only soul in Oceania with a semblance of sense.
You see, they live in a society ruled by one Party. Everywhere they look, there is the face of a man they call Big Brother. Just imagine the reality show with the same name and you will get a clearer picture. There are spies everywhere. Every move, every sound you make is sensored. You may never know if there are hidden microphones and telescreen. It is safe to assume that no place is safe.
You can be arrested with a mere thought. They called it aptly – thought crime. And there are thought police.
The people were bombarded by propaganda everyday of their lives. So much so that they can no longer tell truth from lies. They believe everything the government tells them.
Have you read about the Soviet Union under Stalin? Oceania is worse, tenfold. At least with Soviet rule, you know the faces of your enemies. Winston does not have that advantage. He was fighting against the Party and the ideology that seems to be indestructible.
He was fighting an impossible fight, the outcome of which was certain doom.
Many people think that we are already living in 1984. If you follow current events closely, you will notice how politicians and the media manipulate the information they want us to know. There were outright lies. But there were those lies carefully covered up. Lies with omission. Lies which are hard to prove. Lies that only make the muddy waters murkier.
Most people are also vulnerable, ignorant or simply stupid. They swallow the propaganda without second thoughts.
I dread the day when they will be completely blinded by lies, because by then, George Orwell’s masterpice might finally spring to life.
But I’m thankful that there are still many who use their heads. They question. They look for alternative scenarios. They don’t see things in black and white.
Most importantly, there are many more who will always retain their humanity. People whose selflessness reminds us that kindness and compassion are not yet in danger of extinction.
We need more people like Nelson Mandela and Che Guevara. They are the kind of men who are willing to die for their ideals. As what James Baldwin said, “True rebels after all are as rare as true lovers, and in both cases, to mistake a fever for passion can destroy one’s life.” Although they may differ in their methods, they have the same goal and they are ready to sacrifice everything for it. The same cannot be said about Winston.
We also have people like Jose Mujica, Gino Strada and Abdu Sattar Edhi. There are many more like them. (It will be too lengthy to explain who they are. I think I will have to make a separate piece about them.) They are only few of the best examples of people who have done remarkable things that cemented my faith in humanity.
There is, thankfully, a burning hope for tomorrow. And I believe that won’t allow us to buy this:
War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.