Edwin A. Abbott's Flatland


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Flatland


          We are brought up thinking that everyone shares our views and

          that they are correct and the only right way of seeing things. In

          Flatland, a novel by Edwin A. Abbott, two men from different

          dimensions argue about which one of their societies is right and

          more superior. They accomplish nothing because each is so closed-

          minded to the fact that what they have known all their lives may

          be wrong. This is the case when it comes to homosexuality in

          today's world or anything that involves looking, acting, and

          thinking differently than us.

 

              A. Square and the Monarch of Lineland are closed-minded to

          the possibility ofthere being other worlds or multiple ways to

          seeing things different from their own. Outside Lineland all was

          nonexistent according to the Monarch. When A. Square tried to

          explain to him that the universe was made up of more than just

          straight lines and points, the Monarch called these suggestions

          "impossible" and "inconceivable" (P. 46). A. Square shared his

          ideas with the Monarch because in his words he had "to open up to

          him some glimpses of the truth" (P. 47). Neither man could begin

          to accept the possibility that his world and his beliefs could

        be in any way inferior to those ofthe other. Yet the two men

        state their case for what seemed to be a long while.  During the

        course ofthe conversation,

          the Monarch called the Square and his ideas "uneducated,"

          "irrational," and "audacious" (P. 51). The Monarch thinks if A.

          Square "had a particle of sense, [he] would listen to reason" (P.

          51). Upon listening to the opinion that Flatland is lacking so

          much as compared to Lineland, A. Square strikes back, saying,

          "you think yourself the perfection of existence, while you are in

          reality the most imperfect and imbecile" (P. 5I). A. Square

          continues, claiming, "I am the completion of your incomplete

          self" (P. 51). Neither the Monarch nor A. Square could be swayed

          to the other one's way of thinking.

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They each thought his way was

        the right and only way.

 

              As with A. Square and the Monarch, some people are closed to

          the idea of people viewing things differently than what they

          believe. They sometimes classify them as weird, but who is to say

          what is right or what is wrong? I certainly would not want to be

          told that what I like, I could not enjoy anymore because someone

          decided it was wrong. Thousands of people who have come out and

          shared with the world that they are different have been treated

          as outcasts. These people are homosexuals. Just because they live

          differently than the majority of the people in the world do, this

          does not necessarily make them bad. They are faced with their own

          kind of 'racism' every day.

 

              Children are brought up to share many of their parent's

          values and opinions, just as A. Square's sons, the pentagons,

          did. How else would they learn to hate people only because they

          are different? When I was in ninth grade a new boy came to our

          school. From the start he made it known that he was gay. I saw

          the way the students acted toward him, especially the boys. They

          thought that if they hung out with him or even talked to him,

          everyone would think they were gay too. They did not want to be

          treated the same way they treated him. After seeing this I

          reached my own conclusions about why some people cannot accept

          someone who is gay. They think if they are seen with someone

          who is gay, people will think they are gay as well.

        To me this means they are

          not comfortable with their sexuality. If they were, they would

          not worry about people thinking that they were something that

          they were not. The blame cannot be placed solely on these people,

          because the people stereotyping them are wrong too. However, the

          ones being stereotyped will in some cases turn around and do the

          very thing they were afraid would be done to them.

 

              My interest in this topic stems from when, at ten years old,

          I found out my uncle was not only gay, but dying of AIDS. For

          some members of my family it was difficult to put aside their

          ways of thinking and accept him. I did not fully understand what

          everything meant, but gradually I learned over time. I knew

          someone who was gay and had AIDS and he was not a bad person at

          all. In fact he was a loving and giving person. To think that

          some people would classify him as bad was totally beyond me.

 

              He knew the stereotypes that existed and that is why nobody

          in our family knew his situation until he was very sick. By this

          point, he had alienated himself so much from the rest ofthe

          family that it was almost to the point where he was a stranger to

          them. He still came to visit on holidays, but he always seemed

          out of reach, as ifthere was something wrong-- but no one knew

          what. When the family found out about him, some ofthem could

          handle the news while some could not. His sister for instance,

          closed him off and did not let him come to her house. She was

          afraid of him. But, why? He was the same person he had always

          been, her brother. The only difference was that he needed her and

          the rest ofthe family then, more than ever. He did not need

        to be pushed away. Can anyone imagine how frightened he

        must have been? Why could she not put aside her own

        prejudices and open herself up to him and

          his situation? She had grown up with him. Did she really think he

          would be so inconsiderate as to put her and her children at risk?

          She was brought up that the Bible declares the right and wrong

          way to do everything. Along with millions of other people, she

          would say, if God had intended us to be attracted to people of

          our own sex he would not have made the first humans a male and a

          female. Does it not say in the Bible, however, that God loves

          everyone? It is a part oflife that we are not all alike, but we

          learn to live with everyone's differences.

 

              Just as A. Square felt about the Monarch, I feel that someone

          needed "to open up some glimpses ofthe truth" to my aunt. I did

          not personally see how my aunt treated my uncle because I was to

          young. I only know what my parents tell me, but ifI had been a

          little older and had known then what I know now, I would not have

          been able to just stand around and watch her treat him like that.

          I get mad even now when I think about it. I do know that today my

          aunt regrets treating him like that, but she is paying the price

          now. There was only a little precious time left for her to spend

          with him and she wasted it. My uncle's situation did not change

          the way she feels, however. The Bible is still always right and

          her view, that being gay is a sin, still stands. Just as A.

          Square and the Monarch needed to open their eyes to new

          dimensions, many of the people in the world need to open their

          eyes to different ways of living. These differences, especially

          in the case of homosexuality, do not change the person inside the

          body. We need to step outside the guidelines that our society

          says are acceptable and not acceptable and those that were set up

          by our parents and family members and learn to form our own

          opinions not based on beliefs or appearances, but what lies

          within.

 


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