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The Important Message in Stephen King’s Under the Dome

Written by Zoe Weil | Published on January 20, 2010 | Filed under Humane Connection
The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Humane Education website at http://humaneeducation.org/blog/2010/01/20/the-important-message-in-stephen-kings-under-the-dome/

I just finished reading Stephen King’s new book, Under the Dome. The book is about what happens to a small town in Maine when a dome descends around their town, blocking their access to the outside world. (Note: If you want to read the book, you may want to skip this blog post because I’m going to reveal the source of the dome.) There are lots of important themes in the book, not least of which is the power accorded to the selectman who takes an evil, manipulative, Hitler-like role and creates a gang of followers who destroy the town through ignorance, greed, stupidity, and power addiction. A revisit of Lord of the Flies, adult-style.

But the theme that interested me most was the revelation that the dome was created by alien children as a game — one that is compared throughout the book to those cruel games human children play on animals, such as burning ants by directing the sun’s rays at them through a magnifying glass.

In Under the Dome, we are the ants, but all the alien children had to do was create the conditions for fear and panic. We humans did the rest, destroying ourselves and responding to fear and danger with a conflagration. Not all humans, though, and this is the hope. We can overcome our penchant for indifference and curiosity that turns into cruelty. And we can raise our children to respect all others, including ants, and to refuse to indulge the impulses that would have us treat anyone – even the smallest of living beings – as anything less than worthy of reverence and kindness.

Zoe Weil
Author of Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times and Most Good, Least Harm

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