Photo by Tyler Meuter

Please note: I ask that you do not take this editorial at face-value. If you have a differing opinion, please share it. I want to hear those opinions in order to research them further. Once I have done that, I will graciously reassess my conclusions. I ask that you do the same.

We all want to know what the future holds. Many think that it is shrouded in mystery and that there is no way to know what is to come. But what if I told you that it was not so mysterious? Let me pose a question: what would it take for our society to become a dystopian novel?

I say it is only a matter of time. Dystopic novels are derived from reality, and that is what makes them intriguing but also makes them terrifying. Societies do not treat them as the warnings they should be. Instead, many times, we play right into them.

Many students are required to read “Fahrenheit 451” in high school. In “Fahrenheit 451,” books have been outlawed, and “firemen” are charged with burning down the homes of people who possess books.

The author originally stated that he wrote the novel out of fear of America potentially “burning books,” and I do not believe that his fears were unwarranted. Books are constantly being challenged, which means there is a formal, written complaint to have the book removed from public libraries, school libraries, classrooms or even college class material. These challenges, of which there are thousands each year, can lead to the books being banned.

This is a real threat to our freedom of speech. We allow people to ban books that they do not deem appropriate, many times because of one word that somehow invalidates thousands.

Many times, they are banned for containing authentic history. No piece of our history should be blocked from us. History is, by definition, a sensitive subject. Publish our mistakes, or future generations are bound to make them again. This path of censorship will lead to a fire burning at 451 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another book that has exploded into popularity in the past couple years is “The Hunger Games.” The novel is a lesson in socialism, telling a story about a girl who lives in Panem, a post-apocalyptic society in North America. There are 12 districts ruled by the Capitol, and each district has a certain job to contribute to society. Everything is redistributed among the populace.

Panem does not represent a capitalist system but a tyrannical government bred from socialism. In history, we have seen that the government (the Capitol) becomes a super-powered group showered in wealth while the rest of the country becomes equal and impoverished. Socialism is the first step to this extreme.

While at first, closing the gap between the rich and poor seems like a wonderful idea; that thinking is exactly what will be our downfall. Yes, we can make the gap smaller, but in doing so, you make the rich poorer and the poor poorer. At first that seems somewhat counterintuitive, but I challenge you to look up some of the studies that have been done.
When so much is taken from the rich, they lose their incentive to grow wealth for society. Once these people cease to create new businesses —which inherently create new jobs that get people off the streets — where does the money come from? We, as a society, stop growing and slowly deteriorate into poverty until complete government control begins to seem like a decent idea.

“Uglies” is another dystopic novel that describes the degradation of our society. In the book, everyone is required to undergo an operation when they turn 16 that transforms them into “pretties.” Individuals are given cosmetic improvements to make them pretty, but the general populace does not know that the surgery also creates lesions in the brain to make them placid, making the pretties seem happy all the time.

This book reflects on free-speech, individual thought and their ties to the idea of physical perfection. The focus of our society should not be on physical beauty; instead, we should focus on cultivating thoughts. We should also not strive to be placidly happy all the time. You cannot know true happiness without experiencing true sadness.

Our thoughts and ideas are what make us individuals. Every time we are told what to think, or more often now, what not to say, the government is slowly turning us into placid “pretties.” We are encouraged to focus on sameness. Differing opinions are discouraged to avoid hurting someone. Great minds are willing to break the mold and create a world better than what exists now.

In the span of 500–700 words, I cannot hope to grasp all these books have to offer. I encourage all of you to go out and read dystopian novels with a new mindset. Think about how we can work to prevent these things from happening. Realize the impact of your current decisions and what they are taking away from future generations.