5-6-14 – Divergent: Hope for the younger generation

posted by Rob Roper

Over the weekend my kids talked me into taking them to see the movie Divergent. It’s a story that takes place in a future, post apocalyptic Chicago, now an isolated city-state, managed by a ridged caste structure designed to keep the peace and prevent another catastrophic outbreak of violence. The movie (and the book it is based upon) was the hot thing amongst the high school and middle school students here in town, and my kids had to see it. Though it really wasn’t my kind of film, I relented. Glad I did.

Divergent contains a powerful message against the kind of politics we are seeing emerge today – classifying people into groups, punishing those who don’t fit neatly into politically correct stereotypes. In the movie all citizens are assigned to a group that fits their one dominant characteristic based on a psychological test, and perform roles in society based on their classification.

The happy hippies grow the food, the aggressive daredevils of Dauntless police and defend, the intellectuals of Erudite do the thinking, and the practical, selfless, do-gooders of Abnegation rule. Those who exhibit the qualities of all groups and don’t fit into one – or as the movie depicts them, those who can think for themselves and outside the box – are classified as Divergent and are considered a threat to the system. They must be eliminated.

In parallels to today’s progressive culture are stark, resembling the pigeon holes the left loves to put all people into – African American, white male, GLBT, etc. If you’re one of these things, you’re supposed to act a certain way and be treated a certain way by the government. If you don’t, you get stomped.

The conflict in Divergent arises – again the rich parallels – comes when the ivory tower intellectuals of the Erudite group come to believe that the world would be a better place if they were in charge, and they stage a violent takeover. The violence and murder they inflict is, of course, necessary to keep the peace. The problem is that the mind control Erudite uses to manipulate the Dauntless police force into doing their bidding does not affect the handful undetected Divergents, who ultimately foil the plot.

The message provides a powerful validation of respecting each individual for who he or she really is, and repudiation of the politically correct process of defining people based on superficial characteristics. It also serves as a stark warning about the motives of those who self-purport to be better qualified to organize and rule society based on force rather than mutual consent.

If these are the kinds of books and movies that are capturing the imaginations of young people today, I hope they’ll keep making more of them.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ralph M McGregor May 10, 2014 at 11:52 pm

That is one of the most encouraging things I have read in a while. I was greatly encouraged by the movie “There really is a Heaven” about a 4 yr old who went to heaven. If you haven’t read the book you want to get it. It is well worth the effort !!


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