Smith?s dream is now a nightmare

In 1971, C K Stead wrote the futuristic novel Smith?s Dream. It centred around the hero Smith, who, faced with a neo-fascist takeover of New Zealand, managed to flee to Coromandel to escape the horror of what was happening in his life and to his country.

He is a left wing sympathiser and is recruited to help the Resistance Movement to overcome the authoritarian Prime Minister Volkner and the US-run troops who have essentially taken control. The reader is almost asked to make the mental leap and ask him or herself to consider how far would an average New Zealander go if things went ?bugger up?. Would they do nothing, or would they fight back?

It is hard to summarise a book of this calibre into a few sentences, but suffice to say, it has preyed on my mind over the past weeks. C K Stead created a horrific view of a futuristic New Zealand. But did he get it wrong?

As it stands, he wrote of a right-wing government, an alliance with America, suppression of free speech, free movement and free choice. New Zealand was under martial law.

Today, are we facing a left-wing government, suppression of free speech and free choice, and a distancing from America?

I re-read this book about a year ago when Ms Ardern was elected. I had not read it since my school days and I was struck by the portrayal of Smith as a troubled soul with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, who finally had to find somewhere to run and hide in order to stay himself, to preserve his sanity and his life.

His need for self preservation became so strong that he had to confront his demons and admit that, in doing nothing and saying nothing, he WAS nothing.

Smith fought back and the ending ? well, I will leave that to whet your appetite to track down a copy of this classic New Zealand novel.

How many of us are thinking of making a run for the hills? Or, as the Americans would say, about to get a fast stage out of Dodge. Will we be forced to ask ourselves what we will do? Try to hide, or stand and fight?

The changes in gun laws; the arrest of people who watched and shared a disturbing video; the restriction of our access to certain overseas websites: all these things should give us pause to consider who we are and how we, as Kiwis, will proceed.

It sure is happening fast, and that is one hell of an alarm bell for me.
The actions of our hijab-wearing prime minister, which include removing Jesus from the prayer in parliament, are a very bitter pill to swallow.

Our children and grandchildren are now facing an uncertain future. Is it up to us to draw a line in the sand before it is too late? Or will we look back with regret and admit that, like Smith, by doing nothing and saying nothing we have become nothing?