Many people choose to live safe lives; lives without adventure. A life that emphasizes what is normal, risk free and stable. Ray Bradbury might define such a life as being lived within the “status quo.” Ray Bradbury names the “status quo” as being a hated condition. A condition that decreases the joy one might experience in life and subtracts from one’s unique. To Bradbury the purpose of life is to expand upon one’s experience and to reject mediocrity and the temptation to accept circumstances because they are acceptable.
In the book Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury says to “stuff your eyes with wonder” and to “live as if you will drop dead in ten seconds”. Rather than accept the “status quo,” he challenges us to think our own thoughts; pluck all the meaning and emotions from each experience; and to pursue experience that expands upon one’s being. In other words, to contradict the status quo.
Many people in our small town follow the accepted flow of their lives. It seems that they fear leaving the “safe life” and, through their own inaction, simply become inanimate furniture in the normal, mediocrity of their small town community. Others choose to take a more active stance; they might take a year to see the world; seek the adventure and personal perspective of a university degree; travel as a missionary to seek spiritual discipline in foreign lands; or otherwise seek out experiences that promote individuality and maximize their experience. These people don’t ask for any guarantees, they don’t pursue a life with a security net or an easy out when things might get rough.
I do not think that Bradbury’s message is one of self-absorption, getting what you want in irresponsible ways, and seeking experience outside the context of right and wrong. The protagonist in the story comes to a realization that knowledge is important, ideas are positive, and that one must stand for something. We must always be responsible for our actions whether they are good or bad. We shouldn’t have to lean on something else to establish what is right our wrong for ourselves.
Ray Bradbury emphasizes that the safe life is seductive, easy to achieve, and thoughtless. Those who accept the safe life live like the great sloth. They sleep the day away. They hang upside down in the trees, unquestioning and passively going along. Despite the great technologies that serve to expand our knowledge, many…