Two sides to every coin...

There are usually at least 2 sides to every issue - certainly two sides to every coin - and maybe several sides to right and wrong. Some of the "bad" things in Among the Hidden, could have been written as "good" things with a different story bent.

In the book, Jen points out that the Government wants people to become vegetarian because more food can be produced from plants than from animals. Now - this is fact - it takes about 16 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of beef. Not hard to see that cutting out meat would mean more food (grain) for the world’s people. Yet, the idea of the government forcing people to become vegetarian is seen as bad. Whereas, with different circumstances and a different plot - vegetarianism might be seen as a positive.
The Population Law (the basis for the entire book) could be seen as a good thing under certain conditions. Particularly if overcrowding had reached the tipping point - such as the concerns of overpopulation in China. (I won’t go into all the issues that have sprouted out of that experiment in population control.)
In Among the Hidden, the Government disallows hydroponic farming supplies because of fears of illicit drugs being grown in secret. Or, so they say...  However, is that much different than various over-the-counter drugs being unavailable nowadays (except by individual request and mandatory tracking) because they are used in the manufacture of illegal drugs? 
So - what is good and what is bad? Not always an easy question to answer.
Beth did mention that I might drift into Government and Media discussion. And, it is very easy to do with this topic.
The totalitarian Government in Among the Hidden came to power because people were scared. They believed whatever the ever-present Media told them (a media controlled by the government - duh!) and were willing to give up their freedoms - the ability to make their own decisions about how many children to have, what kinds of food to grow and eat (no more potato chips, folks!), and so on - in order to feel safe.
And, to reinforce things - the Population Law in particular - the Media began a campaign of portraying pregnant women as criminals! Not hard to convince the general public of a thing when it’s constantly coming at you from TV, billboards, magazine ads, etc. (Think about our own views of women that are driven by Media images.)
Sadly, it’s not difficult to come up with current examples of our government moving in the direction of the totalitarianism seen in Among the Hidden
One recent example that seems, on the surface, to be innocuous, but is being enforced due to its good for the general population is...
The Department of Energy is going to start enforcing federal regulations that require shower heads to deliver no more that 2.5 gallons per minute. How will they enforce it? By not allowing manufacturers to make shower heads capable of delivering more than 2.5 gal per min. And, fining them if they do. Currently it is mostly only the very wealthy who use these huge (24” diameter) shower heads and/or multiple shower heads (shades of the Barons!) without regard to the wasting of water. 
Now - it doesn’t seem an awful thing to want to conserve water. I've lived in places where there have been droughts and watering the lawn was a ticketable offense. But, where does the public’s common sense jump ship, thereby allowing the Government to step in and mandate rules about how you can (or can't) take a shower? 

It could only happen in a book - right?


Mandy P.S. said...

So I know this totally misses the main point of the post but...People have 24 inch shower heads?? Man, and I thought I was spoiled with my little six inch shower head. It boggles the mind.

Unknown said...

You know--that's right, Bittersweet! I recently bought a big 4 inch shower head and felt luxurious....

But you make a good point, Julia. And a point my husband makes all the time. He's totally anti-government mandating personal preferences.

Angie Smibert said...

Good post, Julia. One of the things I really liked about ATH was how she presented a very mature view of tricky issues. There's at least two sides to every issue, and the truth lies somewhere in between. I tutor English comp, and many, many students (college age and older) write very one-sided argumentative papers. They completely consume the proverbial Koolaid of one side without evaluating the biases of the sources--and seem to have no concept that both sides could be partially right (or wrong). Kudos to the author!

Jemi Fraser said...

Good books always make you think. I love the issues in this book. They provide great discussions - and not just for the kids in my classroom :)

Fear changes people and they tend to give up a lot to not feel fear.

Julia said...

Great comments everyone! Thanks for stopping by & thanks for thinking about this stuff. Thinkers are always needed!

Elana Johnson said...

Nice post, Julia! I think one of the best parts about ATH is the way it makes you think about our own society.

And no, things like this don't only happen in books... :)