Game Plans

August 21, 2022- This evening, I came upon a film called ” A Feral World”, in which a teen boy and a woman have a chance meeting in the wilderness of what looks like the Front Range of Colorado, following a widespread disaster, which has rendered the human race into scattered groups of men, women and children, operating in survival mode. One clever and amoral man has gathered a group of children and teens around him, Fagin-like, and sends them out to scavenge items from abandoned factories and stores, with private homes also on the table. One of these is the daughter of the woman mentioned above, who is in fact searching for her daughter. He sends a swarm of genetically-engineered bees to help the scavengers. The bees can cause a human or animal to become liquefied.

This scenario plays out, in a bittersweet manner. It struck me as similar to several tyrant stories, both real and fictional, which have been in the public view over the centuries. Tyrants who are successful, up to a point, always have a plausible excuse for each of their actions, no matter how vile. They rely on a combination of fear, grooming techniques, deception and deflection of blame-including what is called “whataboutism” . Those who are duped by these tactics are often people who have felt left out of the march of history and progress. They were in the vanguard of the social hierarchy, for a fairly good stretch of time, but find movements to include others, who have a history of deprivation, in society’s path forward to be both incomprehensible and threatening. They fall for the notion of a zero-sum game.

I have sensed, for many years, that including one group in social progress does not mean depriving others. There is no real zero-sum game. Recognizing that we are all essentially worthy of respect and treatment with dignity removes the incentive to follow a person or group which espouses tyranny. Sounds simplistic, I know, but there really is no other way to avoid a stretch of totalitarian rule.

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