I cried for days after finishing Lord of the Flies. I knew those boys described in this devastating tale. I was friends with boys very like Golding’s British school children. I knew in the same circumstance, more of them would be Jack (a violent bully) than Ralph (the kind, logical, courageous, and thoughtful protagonist). All I could think about was the fat kid, Piggy. Everyone has known that insufferably awkward and shy kid. I had mistreated and lost him as surely as Ralph did when I was a young beast myself.
Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy. – Lord of the Flies, William Golding
It terrified me to realize children are NOT innocent. They are basically cruel beasts when absent security and supervision. Without guidance and love, they turn into little monsters that grow well-fanged. Yes, most children are like the bullying Jack. Few are like the logical Ralph or the empathetic Piggy or the strange and mystical Simon.
People like Ralph often stand alone; isolated, despised. Power and fear cannot abide logic and light, and often the masses will rise against such voices. It takes such courage to defend the Ralphs of this world, simple and logical who speak unpopular truths. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, when people stumble upon the truth, they often run away as fast as they can and pretend nothing has happened.
In the course of this brilliant book, the mystical Simon, also an outcast, makes a chilling statement that echoes through time. This simple observation destroys our desire to find some external enemy to defeat so as to solve all our short-comings.
“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”
Lord of the Flies is the beginning referenced in Books & Beginnings IV. Do not watch a film adaption of this book. Read it. A film cannot do it justice.
Next up, I found a very thin book hidden in my parent’s now infamous bookshelf. It was by an author I had already enjoyed. It had a funny title and strange format. It was a book of great humor that made me think in ways that I never had before. Then it kept making me think for the next forty years and counting, the mark of great literature.
I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to the public fell into my hands.
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them…