Fahrenheit 451 – and the thoughts that come with it

Sometimes the best laid plans for my book queue gets shoved aside with reality.  You may remember that I said I was going to read Dreams from my Father.  I got about two thirds through it when I just had to deal with reality.  That reality being that it was too thick to fit into the book holder on the elliptical at the gym.  So Dreams from my Father has been put on the pile of “books I read while at home or in the car”.  It and other such thick books have thus been banished from my “books I can read at the gym” list forevermore.  Apparently you are only expected to read magazines or watch the built in TV’s while using the elliptical.

Don’t hate me!  I just can’t keep trying to shove the paper under that lip any longer!  Nor can I keep my already tenuous balance while holding the book open!

So it was that I walked to my bookcase on Tuesday to look for a short book that would easily fit in the book holder and Fahrenheit 451 leapt into my hands.

Each dystopian novel I have read comes to their broken society in a slightly different way.  Culture in The Giver was created in an attempt to make everyone equal or “the same”.  They saw diversity as a great evil.  The Alliance focused a lot on quality of life.  Making sure everyone had the same access to all of the comforts they should want.  These two books are unique in that on the surface their society seems perfect, it is only by digging deeper do you see how sinister it is.  These are both aimed towards children and/or youth.

1984 and Atlas Shrugged are adult novels and as such have a more realistic view about the effects of this kind of governmental structure.  1984 came by their culture and society through the theory of collectivism and that the individual cannot, under any circumstances be allowed to make any of their own decisions or have any of their own thoughts.   Atlas Shrugged reached their problems by the theory of “shared sacrifice”, “spreading the wealth” and the idea that government should be the brain while the people, businesses, etc. are appendages of a great world body.

Fahrenheit 451 is equally as profound.  The America in this world is the effect of encouraging people to live for pleasure combined with the “every one gets a trophy” mentality.

In each of these books it all comes down to control.  They all show the true effects of those who work under the false premise that the many are greater than the one, that that you can get something for nothing, and they illustrate what happens when you hand your freedom over in exchange for bread.

Benjamin Franklin said “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

He was right.  Those who are willing to be a slave so that they don’t have to worry about protecting what is theirs is not worthy of the blessings they enjoy.  You cannot absolve yourself of your responsibilities without putting shackles on your own feet.

Similarly, one of my favorite quotes of the Revolutionary Era is from Samuel Adams, who said:

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Freedom isn’t easy folks.  We live in a society of spoiled brats of all ages who are used to instant gratification and getting whatever they want as long as they throw a big enough fit.  They have never known the inherent value that comes from hard work and sacrifice.  They don’t see work and accomplishment as something to aspire to, but as something to avoid at all costs.  Is it any wonder we have more people on welfare than ever before in our country’s history?

I would rather be hungry and homeless than beholden to anyone other than my God, my husband and my posterity.  I may seem heartless, but like Samuel Adams I have no tolerance for those who are willing to bind themselves into servitude just for a little security.  The reason I have no tolerance for them is because it is never enough for them to bind themselves only; they want to put chains on me and my children as well.  That is always the way of it.  You can’t create your perfect utopia without forcing others to do your will.

See the world.  It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.  Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal.  And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping it’s life away.     – Fahrenheit 451

What kind of life would it be to be handed everything you could ever need or want?  To never feel the sense of accomplishment knowing that YOU built that!  I gladly trade in my unblemished hands for splinters when this is the result.

It’s so worth it to be exhausted by the end of the day when I get to spend time teaching her and her siblings

and doing this

With a heart full of thanks I exchange most of my spare time and my perfect skin, and toned body for a few stretch marks, more than a few extra pounds and arms full of these

When will people understand that it’s WORTH it!  That without the bad there IS NO GOOD!  That the phrase “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” is not a curse but a blessing!

By our very natures, we are a creative beings.  Not being able to create something, be it a business, a work of art or a loaf of bread keeps us from reaching our full potential.

Freedom is never the easy way.  Neither is it without a cost.  You have a choice.  You can choose liberty and the ability to LIVE your life with all of the good and bad, or you can choose bondage and live a twisted kind of half-life where you are told what to do in almost every aspect of your life, but you won’t go hungry… at least in theory (I would ask China, North Korea and the Ukraine whether that theory has panned out or not.)

You may think I’m being melodramatic, but from where I’m sitting we are far closer to the dystopia of Atlas Shrugged than we are to the land of opportunity that my great-grandfather came here searching for.  A lot can happen in 100 years, especially when we stop paying attention.

Today as we remember the thousands of people who died eleven years ago and in all of the years since we should remember what they died for.  Those thousands who were killed in the towers lost their lives because someone put the love of theory and an ideology above actual human beings.  Those thousands who have died in the many wars since have died “fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.”

You need to honestly ask yourself if you are the kind of person who is willing to sell their own children and neighbors into slavery just so that you can worry a little less about your own future.  I, for one, am not willing to be part of the problem.  I am not willing to take more than I give, and turn a blind eye to the plight of those around me assuming that the government will take care of it.

For those of you who think that it is more important to punish the successful and cut those who have more than you down to size, I would ask only that you remember the reason you enjoy the many unearned comforts that you do is because those who you despise worked a little longer and a little harder and sacrificed far more than you did.  “Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

– Ronald Reagan



2 Comments Add yours

  1. teresa says:

    great post! i’m gonna have to read that book.


  2. Heather B says:

    Awesome post! I remember reading that book in high school, loved it. You know, in a ‘hated it’ kind of way :)


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