Books from all ages depict such a view: The classic one, of course, is Orwell’s 1984; or of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451; but more recently, of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and even more recently of Ogawa’s, The Memory Police. They all possess a thread of commonality: Of a society both frightening and oppressive, based upon human fears and the insecurity wrought by where we are going, the trends of modernity which succumb to believability, and the suspicion that such dystopian consequences are actually possible.
Orwell was wrong, of course — Big Brother did not have to forcibly place tele-screens into people’s homes; instead, each of us volunteered to go out and purchase such spying screens, and with our own hard-earned money in the form of Smartphones, televisions and laptops. And while no one comes and burns our books, we have effectively accomplished such a misdeed by slowly and incrementally converting them all into digital devices, thus ensuring that we won’t actually know whether the published content of a book is what was originally intended; for, he who controls the digital device has ultimate control over its content, whereas a book published in its original form cannot be altered except by forcible means.
As for Atwood’s theme and Ogawa’s portrayal of the world — they deal with the two aspects of a life in a frightening way: Of the subjugation of the body (The Handmaid’s Tale) and of controlling the mind (The Memory Police). All are fictional works; yet, somehow we can “relate” to the stories being told. How is that? Is it because we have a dystopian perspective already prepared within us by society’s callous conduct?
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her Federal or Postal job, the Dystopian Perspective is a very familiar one. For, being ostracized; being condemned; being harassed and being subjected to unfair treatment — it all comes in a bundle once you can no longer “perform” at the level expected by the Federal Agency or the Postal Service.
When that Dystopian Perspective becomes unbearable, then it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. And, while the Dystopian Perspective may not turn into an Utopian Reality, it is far better than the subjugation of the human mind and body that gets increasingly worse under Big Brother’s eye.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire