Imagine

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Imagine you have a society in which one half of its members control the other half. The controllers don’t want to be seen as tyrants, so they allow some of the controllees to break out of their position in life (although they never pay them as much as they do themselves).  But the vast majority of the controllees are used against their will for sex, for child-rearing, for housework, and for the unglamorous jobs, paid and unpaid, that keep their society going. The controllers are very clever, however: they convince the controllees that they love to serve, to submit, to be in the background. They do this largely through the use of religions in which the controllees’ roles are strictly circumscribed and presented as being God’s will.

Imagine, too, that not all the potential controllers are much better off than the controllees. But they are kept quiet by the illusion that they at least control others. They may not be the kings, but they rule their own households. They don’t realize that they have as much to gain as the ones they control if they would refuse to play the control game.

One remarkable characteristics of controllers and controllers is that either can be born into any family. Therefore the parents are in the unenviable position of having to teach their children to take on their prescribed roles. Further complicating things is the fact that there are different levels of controllers, but the common denominator is that every controller gets to control at least one controllee and has the consolation of knowing that he belongs to the controlling (ruling) class.

Controllees make the best of their lot by embracing their roles. They buy into the concept that they were made by their gods to do what they do. They accept the power that the controllers have over them and rationalize it by accepting that their controllers are better than they are.  Those who don’t accept their condition are forced to buck the system and fight the controllers, some of whom are in their own families. Some of them are beaten or even killed for their insubordination. Others are rejected by the controllers and made to feel inferior. The ones who are successful in throwing off the controllers’ hold on them are held up by the controllers as “proof” that there is no vast conspiracy to keep the controllees in their place, that it is just a figment of their imagination.

And then imagine if the controllees revolted. If they refused to fulfill the roles that have been forced on them. If they stood up and were able to effect change by the sheer force of their numbers. What would the controllers do? What would they be able to do?

Can you imagine that?

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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