A sacharrine 2012 video to promote Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Democratic national convention uses the phrase, “Government is the only thing we all belong to.” In the next sentence, narration runs up the ladder of communities we join, with nation at the top. The writer clearly confuses government with nation or country. Watch at about the four-minute mark of the video, where this mistake occurs.
Don’t be suckered in: government and nation are not the same! To make a loose analogy, recall the basilisk in the dungeon of Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Harry bravely battles the monster, and wins. When you confuse government and country, when you invoke patriotism in support of your government, you may as well say you love Hogwarts, including the monster in the basement.
Harry does not win his struggle with Voldemort until, like Notre Dame, Hogwarts is hollowed out.
The monster down in the dungeons is related to the school’s dark history, but it is certainly not part of what Hogwarts students love about the institution. Harry senses, however, that the monster threatens to destroy the school and everything else he loves. Like Harry, Dumbledore tries to protect Hogwarts and its students, but he fails in the end, at cost of his life. After he dies, Hogwarts is destroyed in a great showdown between forces of good and evil. Harry does not win his struggle with Voldemort until, like Notre Dame, Hogwarts is hollowed out.
The devil’s greatest trick is to convince other people he doesn’t exist.
The same themes play out in Lord of the Rings (Frodo vs. Sauron), Hunger Games (Katniss Everdeen vs. the Capitol), Star Wars (Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader and the Emperor), Paradise Lost (God vs. Satan), the Narnian Chronicles (Aslan vs. the Queen), the Wizard of Oz (Dorothy vs. the Wicked Witch), the Bible, and numerous other works of literature for young and old. If you cannot recognize these stories playing out in our country’s history, you have not read enough literature.
To paraphrase Verbal Kint, a.k.a. Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects, ‘the devil’s greatest trick is to convince other people he doesn’t exist.’ Government wants you to think it is looking out for you. It does not want you to discover the basilisk in the basement.
Related article and video
In Context: “Government is the only thing that we all belong to”