Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower, Octavia E. Butler

When no influence is strong enough

To unify people

They divide.

They struggle,

One against one,

Group against group,

For survival, position, power.

They remember old hates and generate new ones,

They create chaos and nurture it.

Originally published in 1993, this near-future science fiction novel by Octavia E. Butler tells of a world that the more pessimistic among us might say is closer than we think. Parable of the Sower tells the story of Lauren Olamina, a young teenager when we first met her, through her journal entries. Set in California, Lauren’s family lives in a middle-class gated community - a typical-enough existence. But it’s getting harder and harder to maintain a middle-class existence with fewer paying jobs and inflation skyrocketing. Beyond the walls of their neighborhood, homelessness is rampant and addictive drugs only add to the danger. Corporations have begun to privatize public commodities, like water, and desperation is spreading. When tragedy strikes close to home, Lauren is pushed to finally do what she has felt called to do all along: to leave the relative safety of our home and try to survive long enough to take her message to the masses.

Current day readers will recognize Butler’s extrapolation of twin crises income inequality and climate change, along with humanity’s tendency to divide and allow fear-mongering to turn us towards our baser instincts.

They kill and kill and kill,

Until they are exhausted and destroyed,

Until they are conquered by outside forces,

Or until one of them becomes

A leader

Most will follow,

Or a tryrant

Most fear.

(Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower, Page 103)

The Hate U Give