The ORG, Protests, and Lessons From the Past

Scott Brody’s The ORG has proven to be a timely release. Set in the near future, The ORG revolves around the political elements in a polarized society rocked by extreme social forces and the rapid deterioration of the environment by climate change, which has spiraled entirely out of control.

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At the same time part political thriller, part mystery, and part social commentary, The ORG takes on directly both where we are as a nation and where we seem inevitably headed. As such, it stands as a cautionary tale. Brody challenges his readers to reflect on what it means to be an activist, a responsible custodian of the Earth, and an agent of political change.

It may seem odd that an author would take on such a politically divisive topic, but not for Scott Brody. Coming of age in the ‘60s in a politically active family, Brody has likewise dedicated himself to activism. As a staunch opponent to the war in Vietnam, Brody brings his real-life experience to bear in his work, as he masterfully weaves a tale of intrigue where activism meets the authoritarian bulwark of modern government.

Brody’s work is uniquely important due to its current relevance. As Brody admits, the U.S. has been in a prolonged era of social peace. Yet, this year has shattered that peace. Protesters are defying an epidemic to take to the streets en masse, fueled by the Black Lives Matter movement. For most of those protesting, these are unique times as they search for a voice and message to articulate.

What Brody offers are essential lessons from the past—having lived through the era of protests some 50 years ago. To Brody, history is cyclic, and his generation represents the last successfully organized resistance to an overly authoritarian government. Having been derided alternately as communists, hippies, socialists, and anarchists, Brody’s generation is intimately aware of what struggles current protestors face.

An essential part of activism is seizing the narrative. Consider such terms as “social justice” and “intellectualism”, which have somehow been demonized in modern political vernacular. You need only consider their antithesis, “injustice” and “ignorance”, to understand how warped and misplaced such ridicule is.

Thus, it falls to the activists to reclaim the inherent truth and nobility of these words. Brody makes this abuse of moral norms and the truth of words themselves apparent in The ORG along with the resultant authoritarianism in government and complacency in society that it engenders.

Brody came of age in a time when black Americans could be drafted to fight and die for their country on foreign soil but could be denied a seat in a restaurant for the color of their skin. So, modern activists would do well to listen to Brody and the others who fought for justice in the ‘60s. There is wisdom to be gained.  As such, The ORG stands as a poignant allegory for the U.S.’s current struggles for equal rights, social justice, and the broader fight for its very identity.

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