Where have all the graveyards gone,
Gone to flowers every one,
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn? – Pete Seeger
In the movie 'The Hunger Games" we saw the people, led by a woman who was pretty accurate with a bow and arrow, rise up against the corrupt capital city of Panem, which houses the extremely rich. The extremely poor workers make up the rebel forces who organize to take down their rich oppressors, who force to poor into slave labor to make life wonderful for the rich. Movie goers relate more to Katness Evergreen than they do to President Snow.
In the movie known as "The Planet of the Apes" we saw Rod Serling's image of the end of our world; a world run by authoritarian apes with gorillas serving as the military. The remaining humans dress as chimps and strive to survive against authoritarian Apes. We relate to the underdog here too.
In the movie "Star Wars" the Jedi battle the (Sith) Empire for control of the Force. The heroes in all of these movies are the underdogs; the ones fighting against an oppressive authority. Few fans are rooting for the Empire/Apes/Panem.
It's somewhat surprising that no one, to date, has pointed out the movies that we find so entertaining, (the new Star Wars movie has already brought in over $1 billion in a few short weeks) and their heroes, appear to be at odds with our reality.
In our real world of today the Empire/Apes/Panem are us; the United States. We are the supreme military power of the world today. The United States spends more money on our military budget than any other country in the world. The next closest country would be China which spends less than one-third of what we spend to impose our might onto others. Yet we still hear claims from empty-suit politicians that we need to spend even more of our tax dollars on the military; as if we're not spending nearly enough.
With all of this military might you'd be inclined to think that we are the most secure nation on earth. We're not. We wake up every day in fear. In my early days we were afraid of Communists. Before that we were afraid of black people (one might argue we've never gotten over that fear). Today we're afraid of Muslims.
Don't you think it odd that Canadians are not afraid to the degree where they feel they must be allowed to open carry firearms to show how unafraid they are? As some faithful readers may recall I just spent a few days in Italy. The people there didn't seem to be living in fear and don't carry guns.
The ones we fear in the movies are the rich, evil, oppressive dictators; the President Snows; the Empire. In the eyes of many, if not most, of the rest of the real world we, America, are the Empire and our president, whoever he or she may be, is their President Snow.
It's no accident where we find ourselves. We think of ourselves as the greatest nation on earth and to a large degree that is absolutely true. But with our great wealth and our great strength comes an even greater responsibility to do good. When we support some dictators and overthrow other dictators the world begins to question our intentions. Are we still the nation of good and freedom where justice prevails? That's a hard sell when our own police have killed over 1000 citizens in 2015; 161 of them unarmed.
What's the answer? Stop being afraid. Stop listening to politicians who strive to keep you afraid. Stop believing in someone else's words designed to keep you in a state of fear. Look inside yourself and ask what it is you fear the most. You might just find that the one thing we fear is fear itself.
Bob Stannard is a resident of Manchester.