Within the current state of government and society order, it is difficult to predict the future regarding the abundance of current issues that can jeopardize a better future. The current civilization should consider the specific laws and ways of living in order to set to ensure a bright future for present and future generations. This research aims to determine where the future is heading and the potential barriers towards its prosperity and improved livelihood. Parable of the Sower, written in 1993, discloses the changing climate of the world between 2025 and 2027 and raises the themes of religion, hope, inclusion, and exclusion, as well as creation, destruction, and rebirth (Butler). Several critical issues revealed in the novel were remarkably anticipated by Octavia Butler that afflict the contemporary United States. With that said, this essay will analyze the future of the current generation through the lens of Butler’s novel in terms of the vital societal concerns, including racism, security and surveillance, and the history of the school system.
The General Perspective on the Current Societal Issues
While reading the Parable of the Sower novel, one may question how the modern generation can prevent certain transforming events in the book in the year 2025. The author manages to represent the collapse of Western civilization as a good matter that generally alters the apocalyptic meaning informed in the novel. Most importantly, Butler argues for the overall impact of the Western society as the condition for the rise of a survivalist within the anarchical community co-established by the insights of “blackness and womanism” (Dunning 180). The fact of racism is demonstrated in the Parable of the Sower; however, it is not as strong as the racism in the 1900s and compared to the present times. Therefore, there is still a concern about reducing the prevalence of racism and making it less of a problem until 2025 and a less problematic issue than the story itself.
With regard to the above mentioned, the research is primarily focused on ensuring a better future for the present and future society. It is also crucial to understand how to grow as an individual, as a country, and as a single whole. The main argument of the study implies preventing government issues, as shown in Butler’s novel in relation to public aid and people’s safety. Another critical aspect merely illustrated in the novel but is considerably important for the future involves a lack of education. To be more specific, the existing laws in the United States give students opportunities to make their own decisions at sixteen years old, whether they want to stay at school or not. Also, a significant number of students within a classroom prevents the teacher from focusing on each individual student, including their weak points that need to be improved.
In general, the educational environment does not focus on students’ learning abilities anymore because it is more interested in students passing a grade, consequently damaging the students’ ability to learn and grow. In the Parable of the Sower, most of the story’s characters lack education, even in Lauren’s community. As a result, the modern educational system is bound to lead society into a future where most people cannot get a prestigious job due to a lack of reading or writing skills. Such critical societal issues require immediate changes concerning the improved system in the future and defining new opportunities for education outside of school. If our future turns out to be like the one depicted in the Parable of the Sower, how can we possibly manage as a coherent community?
Security and Surveillance
Octavia Butler implements the key feature of many escape narratives, which are the wilderness survival skills embodied in the protagonist Lauren. The author’s reference to the issue of survivalism as allowing an escape from Western civilization indicates the tradition of the maroon in the diasporic literature (CITE). Hence, efficient marronage requires survivalist skills. As such, Butler’s novel can be perceived as excavating a lost history of black survivalism that takes its origin in the times of slavery and colonialism. Security and surveillance serve as the determining factors in the story. The lack of a whole video camera contributed to home invasions wherein the characters were forced to watch their neighborhood and were placed in danger.
With that said, the research studies the surveillance videos regarding their helpfulness in the present and how they can be improved in the future to avoid the events occurring in 2025 in the Parable of the Sower. The surveillance videos can assist in preventing particular criminal activities and find individuals who commit such crimes. As described by Moreno, survivalism implies the distrust of the social and political structures, which inevitably govern the lives of society. Thus, it can be regarded as anti-civilization in the fundamental aspects of being within a wild or pastoral setting. The use of video surveillance substantially increased in recent decades, providing an effective mechanism to address security threats (Rajpoot and Jensen). However, they also might greatly threaten the privacy of the individuals under surveillance. Considering this, it is crucial to protect human privacy from the insider personnel engaged in monitoring surveillance data.
The History of the School System
The educational issue presented in the novel directly affects the future and involves the history of the school system, the present issue with the school system, and where the modern education system is heading. The main characters of the book attained a good education, including Lawrence, a mother whose kids mostly live in the community, and Loren, who obtained more education than some of the individuals that were older than her. According to Butler’s portrayal of the protagonist in terms of survival, education is considered a valuable aspect for surviving in the world depicted in the novel, representing our potential future. As the author advocates for the importance of education, she emphasizes that without education, Lauren would not be able to address these situations without her capacity to learn and teach. Due to Lauren’s capacity to learn from her surroundings, the protagonist, who embodies each individual in the future, managed to survive, continue traveling and spread Earthseed.
Education is, therefore, the most powerful weapon that one can use to change the world and make it a better place to live. A well-educated society is a guarantee for the prosperity and development of future generations. The increasing number of global problems requires the current society to be more aware and acknowledged about human impact on the planet and the future’s society. The changing environment becomes more complex and, thus, needs more in-depth knowledge to be controlled. However, the human sense of tolerance and respectful attitude towards others is probably the most critical issue to analyze within individual education. A knowledgeable person values the culture and will never support the idea of racism or any form of systemic oppression.
The third crucial issue that needs to be examined in connection to improving the future is racism. Concerning recent events that occurred this year concerning the Black Lives Matter movement and protests, it is evident that racism is a determining factor in the United States and globally. Beginning from the transatlantic slave trade between 1525 and 1866, it is still an ongoing problem, which many people have been fighting for. In the twenty-first century, it is unacceptable that such issues and biases still exist when people are led by their prejudged attitude towards others based on their skin color. Butler attempts to illustrate that current society disproportionately victimizes the vulnerable groups, such as “racial minorities, women, and the poor with environmental degradation” (Kouhestani 900). The main protagonist’s curious mind recognizes that the existing social injustice is inherently linked to race, class, gender, or even multiple religions within society.
Based on the events described in the novel, society returned to the era of slavery even in the year 2025. However, it had one fundamental difference, given that the new slavery could be imposed on anyone lacking power and accepting slavery, not only black people. The future depicted by Octavia Butler implies that racial superiority does not serve as the main reason for slavery anymore (Kouhestani). It is now directly dependent on the power of the employer, regardless of race and class.
Such changes in defining superiority is a clear result of social injustice revealed by the author in Parable of the Sower. Therefore, the novel provides a new vision of environmental injustice and considers social crises in general terms. For a better future, modern society must understand and value individual differences in order to avoid the social crises based on any form of dissimilarity that even nowadays can be regarded as a reason for oppression and exploitation in society. If current society does not make any severe changes in treating one another, the oppression of social groups by more powerful ones will only intensify, and the generation will continue to decline.
In Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler depicted the future of the world, which does not seem that far away from where society is now. She anticipated that the future society would be significantly worse than the present one. However, the essential issues analyzed in the novel are inherently connected with the challenges that our current generation has to deal with. The problems of security and surveillance, lack of education, and social inequality, including racial bias and oppression, are the real issues that are prevalent in our time. The existing social crises of the modern world have the potential to regress in the near future considerably. Based on the analyzed aspects that impede successful social development and growth, they are closely linked to each other. Hence, the level of education directly affects the predominance of racism and related attitudes towards minorities and the level of security and the need for surveillance among the community.
Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Four Walls Eight Windows, 1993.
Dunning, Stefanie K. “Learn or Die”: Survivalism and Anarchy in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.” Human Contradictions in Octavia E. Butler’s Work, edited by Martin Japtok and Rafiki Jenkins, Springer Nature, 2020, pp. 179–194.
Kouhestani, Maryam. “Environmental and Social Crises: New Perspective on Social and Environmental Injustice in Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower.” International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, vol. 5, no. 10, 2015, pp. 898-902.
Moreno, Micah. “Survival by Any Means: Race and Gender, Passing and Performance in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.” Human Contradictions in Octavia E. Butler’s Work, edited by Martin Japtok and Rafiki Jenkins, Springer Nature, 2020, pp. 195–212.
Rajpoot, Qasim Mahmood, and Christian Damsgaard Jensen. “Security and Privacy in Video Surveillance: Requirements and Challenges.” IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, pp. 169–184.