Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The City Of Atheists, oh I mean, Ember

So I just finished reading The City Of Ember, and I could not help believe that there were no truly religious people in the city. It should have been called a city of atheists, mainly because religion did not seem to be the norm. There were some people who were called “Believers”, but they believed that the people who built the city would come back to save them. This was an interesting idea, because they knew the city was built a long time ago, and the builders thought of just about everything the people of the city would need. Food, light, shelter, a school, a mayor, and even instructions to get out. The belief the believers had does not equate to the belief of many religious people because religious people have no evidence that God exists, while the believers do.

While this book doesn't support atheism outright, it does support socialism. Everyone gets a job at the age of 12, and every job, no matter how boring or mundane, is done to benefit the city. Some people are messengers, some work to fix pipes, and others work to keep the generator (powered by water) from breaking down. All of the food is supplied by the city, and also the electricity, and water. The housing seemed free (at least no one was complaining about paying rent) and it seemed like people were allowed to retire once they got old enough (the main characters grandmother, who died, didn't have a job throughout the entire book). This city was self sufficient, and although canned food almost ran out, and there was corruption in the government, the people were mostly happy with the way things worked.

The only thing I would disagree with in the city of ember was the manner in which people were given jobs. They had to choose the jobs out of a hat, randomly. I believe there must have been a zero unemployment level, but at the same time people were not given jobs according to their skill. This was odd because, if all the people who were good with machinery were working on maintaining the generator, I am pretty sure they would have figured out how to fix it. Also, doesn't it make sense to have people do the jobs they are good at? If I had a job that I was good at, I would hold my head up with pride. In ember, if you were particularly bad at a job, you were given a new job in 3 years, randomly (again). This would never work in America. People care too much about status, and are too materialistic not to take advantage of the system.

As for atheists in the city of ember, I don't think they would have been seen as abnormal, as they are in todays society. I believe they would have been seen as regular people who work for the city. This common thread is what seemed to keep the city together. Everyone was afraid of the darkness. Everyone was afraid of the generator going out or running out of food. But because everyone was in the same boat, they all cared much more about each other. They all tried their best to reduce waste. And they all did the work they needed to do.

We do not need, as a society, to lock ourselves up for 200 years to achieve this. We all have a common thread. We all are human, and we all live on earth. This should be enough for us to not pollute, and to help our neighbor whenever possible. And if someone doesn't have a job, but wants one, then I am sure the people of the world should be available to help that person find something within the realm of his capabilities. Why? Because if you were in their situation, you would want someone to help you! It is a altruistic idea, but without altruism, all of our fitness would go down, and no one would be safe.

The City of Ember was a good read for younger people but not for me. If your 16 or younger, I highly recommend it. For us 20 somethings, I believe we need books with a bit more bite! While the fantasies of a futuristic society called ember, might be fun to entertain, the cities function as a whole had too many problems to work properly in real life.

Speaking of real life, I am currently looking for a job. Click here to see my resume.

1 comment:

  1. Though I haven't read the book, I have seen the movie version of it. The story made me think how people are vulnerable to a belief and fear of leaving such belief.
    The City of Ember is one those movies I've seen that convinced me how people are being controlled through faith. Since then, I'm atheist.