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It’s a Small Price to Pay For Your Safety

This post was originally published on January 20, 2014.

In dystopian societies, those twisted versions of perfection, people are often treated as slaves or children. They are kept from reaching their full potential by the rules and regulations designed to curtail their freedoms in the name of safety.

That got me thinking—what does it really mean to grow up, and how has that been curtailed in the world of COUNTERACT?

“It’s a small price to pay for your safety.”

In today’s society, kids look forward to the typical teenager’s rites of passage—going places without their parents, dating, getting a driver’s license. In the world of COUNTERACT, none of those activities are possible. The very few remaining restaurants are patronized only by the wealthy, because most people can barely afford the cost of their weekly food allotment, which is assembled and distributed by the government’s Essential Services department. “Let me buy you breakfast” is an extravagant gesture, and a pizza date would be completely out of the question. Shopping malls and cinemas have been closed in the name of safety, because large, open places where groups of people gather are easy marks for terrorist attacks. Professional sporting events and concerts are televised, but safety dictates the athletes and artists perform to empty arenas. No one but government officials are allowed to drive cars, because it’s irresponsible to allow just anyone access to something that can be used as a weapon.

Growing up is more than just enjoying the privileges of a certain age. In a society where freedoms are curtailed, how would the young people learn to take care of themselves?

The teens I asked said that growing up means, in part,

-taking responsibility for one’s actions

-solving your own problems, not expecting someone else to drop everything and come to your rescue

-not going along with the crowd

-being yourself

-standing up for what is right

Tommy and Careen, the protagonists in COUNTERACT, are among the first generation to grow up with these restrictions in their society. They are lucky to have parents who’ve taught them some of the skills they’ll need to take care of themselves when the need arises. But what of the younger children? And those yet to be born? How long before the individual’s survival skills are completely lost, and the only way to live is at the mercy of the guiding hand that promises safety?

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