By Fareeha Qayoom
It’s a fact. There’s no getting away from it. We discriminate, we judge, we evaluate, daily on the basis of ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ which is quite a subjective quality if you think about it – we might not even notice we are doing it. It’s human nature. We might make allowances for (human) failings if we like a certain someone. If we don’t like this person, we can’t help finding fault with everything he or she does no matter how trivial it really is in the real scheme of things, it will be blown out of proportion and made a big deal. We just like being on his/her case. Know what I mean? When you take it to extremes, you have the established hate groups that spread messages of violence against people who are different and in a minority. It could be anything; (think of any minor difference, for example, the color of your eyes that might distinguish any group from the norm for example) – very ‘lord of the flies’ – totally irrational and against ethics but still there…and its insidious.
Exploring it in the sci-fi, in an impersonal, fantasy setting allows us to examine this human failing in detail in the new fall TV show, the “Tomorrow People.”
I think it’s an interesting show. There’s a group of super human beings who are being persecuted, hunted and killed by a secret government organization made up of ordinary regular folk and a smattering of the same super human beings who are on the payroll and have bought in the philosophy that their ‘species’ are dangerous and must be killed. And then there’s the new recruit who has loyalties with both groups of people and can’t understand this silly attitude of ‘us’ and ‘them’ that’s plaguing both sets of people- he’s the next big thing in evolution. He thinks both groups can co-exist peacefully. We, as audience, can relate. It is indeed silly but both groups have some justification/history in place for this attitude.
This raises the question in my mind, is it even possible to not have any bias (for or against) ever? Obviously, we are not robots. We have emotions. Controlling all these emotions, being balanced, factual and objective in every situation takes a lot of strength of character. Only saints probably treat everyone equally all the time (and do not discriminate on the basis of your social importance/status or financial status or looks or gender or the color of your skin or your intelligence level so on and so forth)… Ordinary folk prefer hierarchies and classifications – in earlier societies, things might have been simpler, more black and white – it was ‘my clan’ vs. ‘your clan’ right or wrong.
Now, it’s every man for himself – If you want to survive and thrive – you better align yourself with the majority group, assimilate, be part of the in-group not to get picked on. Setting yourself to be different might invite trouble and bullying. The only exception to the rule, to have some kind of power that intimidates the majority folk from picking on you even if you are a minority -You have got to be a real powerful group; if not in numbers, than, in terms of currency that they understand, at least symbolically. When it’s the Law of the Jungle – only the fit survive to fight another day. As they say, ‘it’s not the big that eat the small; it’s the fast that eat the slow.”
The only important skill in such a place is the ability to adapt. Roll with the punches but keep moving forward. Yes, all this from a mere TV show. That’s what makes it so interesting to me. I hope this show evolves and returns next year…it would be very fascinating to see how this particular fantasy society deals with bigotry and comes out on the other side as better more evolved human beings.
Editor’s note – The show got cancelled and will not return next fall. Which was a relief. It got quite boring. I guess, watching bigotry even in a fantasy setting is not all that interesting when you think about it. It puts you off…