The Fear of Change

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler was a novel that analyzed how humans take passive roles, even during times of crisis, because of their fear of change. The main character, Lauren Olamina is forced to move north when the government has collapsed and her family has been murdered in her hometown of LA. Before this crisis erupted, Lauren developed her own religious system called Earthseed from the time she was a child. Within this system, God is not viewed as a person but more of a spirit, like nature itself. Her goal once she moves north is to start a new community based off Earthseed.

What struck me as most interesting about Lauren’s religion is that she had no emotional attachment to God. “My God doesn’t love me or hate me or watch over me or know me at all, and I feel no love or loyalty to my God. My God just is.” Most often, religion is a way that people seek comfort when they are going through difficult times in their life. Lauren, on the other hand, does not have this personal connection to God. Moreover, she believes that God is change, or in other words, that God is the only power that ever prevails. Regardless of our personal connection to God, “God can’t be resisted or stopped, but can be shaped and focused.” Although it is possible for humans to shape God, God will always yield change, regardless of this human connection.

It was understood by the reader that according to Earthseed, God is change. Change was a main theme throughout this novel. In addition, the theme of fear was presented in alignment to change. It was stated through out the novel that humans are innately afraid of change. This relates to the part of the novel when Lauren is talking to her father about the world coming to an end. He is trying to explain to Lauren why she should not discuss the world coming to an end with people because it scares them. “Its better to teach people than to scare them” he told her. “If you scare them and nothing happens, they loose their fear, and you loose some of your authority with them. It’s harder to scare them a second time, harder to teach them, harder to win back their trust. Best begin by teaching.” This quote reminded me of our discussion in class about if we should instill fear in people as a motive for getting them to understand the seriousness of climate change. Similar to how people were talking in this novel about the world coming to an end is what essentially is happening now with the conversation of climate change. I disagree with Lauren’s father that we should simply ignore the issue because people are afraid of it. I do, however, agree that scaring people is not the way of going about making any kind of change. In other words, we should focus less on constructing the perfect delivery of information to make people scared, and we should instead teach people the simple facts of what our future will look like if we continue to not take action.

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